Can I ask an Employee to Work on their Day Off?

One of the main components to the smooth running of your organisation is having adequate staff each day to carry out the daily tasks required. Being understaffed can cause a wealth of issues for employers, such as the suspension of day-to-day operations or falling behind schedule due to the lack of manpower.  In severe cases, it could result in the closure of your business for the entire day, leading to a loss of income impacting your organisation as a whole.

Most employers will resolve staffing issues by contacting employees on their day off to provide cover, and whilst some employees would not mind helping at short notice, others may have already made commitments or feel uncomfortable with the idea of attending work if they have only had a short break between their shifts.

In these situations, there are a few things for employers to consider.

  • Look at their employment contract. What are their working hours? Have they already worked their contracted hours for the week? Is there opportunity to work overtime? Depending on their contract, you may be able to ask them to work on short notice, especially if your employee is on a zero-hour contract. By law, an employee cannot work more than 48 hours a week unless they agree to work more hours or they fall under one of the exceptions here. Employees that are under 18 cannot work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week. 
  • Ensure that you are in compliant with Working Time Regulations and other legislation that protects employees' rights. If you do not allow your employees to have an 11-hour gap between their shifts before you request them to work again, you may unintentionally be in breach of the law. Instead, consider asking another employee to cover or wait until the 11-hour time period is over before they start their shift.
  • Finally, always ensure that you handle the situation appropriately and with consideration. If the employee is off because of sickness or annual leave, it may be best to seek help from another employee due to the complications this may have. Avoid negatively impacting your relationship with employees by pressuring them to attend work on their days off, be considerate. Damaging your relationship with your employees could leave your business vulnerable to high staff turnover.

If you have any questions about your rights to contacting employees on their day off or how to schedule your workforce effectively, email us at [email protected]