By Alan Price, HR expert & CEO of BrightHR

With COVID-19 being the main talking point for everyone right now, it's easy to forget that the clocks will be going forward on Sunday 29 March, at 1am.. Although those who do not work at the weekend will be in bed when this happens, it is essential to consider how this will affect working hours, and pay, for those working in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Unlike when the clocks go back in October, employers do not need to be concerned about the risk of paying under the national minimum wage or breaking working time rules. However, they should bear in mind that employees will technically be working an hour less in their shift as a result of a clock change; for example, an employee working an eight-hour shift will only work for seven hours instead of eight.

Whether the employer will need to pay their employees for a full, eight-hour shift in this situation will depend on upon the contract of employment. Generally, a contract will outline that a worker is entitled to hourly pay for every hour that they work. However, workers who receive a regular salary will usually receive the normal amount regardless of whether they work one hour less. This is because a salaried employee is more likely than an hourly paid employee to be required to work extra hours without additional pay, and to be entitled to pay even if they work fewer hours.

Employers can choose how they treat this hour lost, subject to any contractual entitlements, but should act consistently and fairly. For example, if they are going to require staff to work the extra hour in October when the clocks go back, they could cancel out this hour lost by agreeing that they get to go home earlier when the clocks go forward now. If this is the approach taken, employers should ensure that employees who work an hour less in March are also working the night shift in October.

If an employee is scheduled to work on Sunday morning, they should be reminded that the clocks are going forward an hour and encouraged to prepare for this. Employee lateness can be costly for a company and employers can consider disciplining any late worker if they believe it is necessary.