An old-fashioned alarm clock sits on a path covered in red and orange autumn leaves.
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The clocks are going back – do staff get an extra hour’s pay?

20 Oct 2023

BrightHR’s Alan Price takes a look at what happens to employees’ wages when the clocks go back and they have an extra hour of work.

This year the clocks go back on Sunday, 29 October at 2am. And for most of us that means there’s an extra hour in the night – and a lazy Sunday morning lie-in.

But for those folk working during the night, the extra hour means a longer shift. And if you’re an employer with night workers, then you probably have a lot of questions about staff hours and wages.

Can you actually make staff work for an extra hour? Do you need to give them longer breaks? And do you need to pay them more? Here’s what you need to know.

Employee contracts

The devil is in the detail. Check the exact wording in your employee contracts to see how to manage your staff shifts when the clocks go back.

Because while two phrases might seem to say the same thing at a glance, there’s a very big difference between an ‘eight-hour shift starting at 12am’ and a ‘12am–8am shift’.

Take two night shift workers

Meet Billy and Betty.

Billy’s contract says they work an eight-hour shift starting at 12am. Because the clocks go back at 2am to make it 1am (again!), Billy will have completed eight hours’ work by 7am and can finish his shift.

But Betty’s contract says she works from 12am to 8am. So, because of the extra hour in her shift (when the clocks go back from 2am to 1am), she’ll have to work a nine-hour shift instead of her usual eight.

So, do you have to pay staff for the extra hour?

The simple answer is that it comes down to whether the employee is paid a salary or an hourly rate.

Salaried employees get paid their normal salary regardless of the extra hour. But employees on an hourly rate should get an extra hour’s wages for their extra hour’s work. But it’s not quite that simple.


If an employee is working an extra hour, this could take them over their contracted hours. If this is the case, you might need to check your business’s overtime policy.

National minimum wage

You also need to be careful that the extra hour doesn’t take your employee’s pay below the legal rate.

For example, if a salaried employee on the national minimum wage does an extra hour’s work for no extra money, this drops their hourly rate – so you need to be careful not to underpay them.

Remember, all salaried workers are legally entitled to the national minimum wage, and for people aged 20 and over, this is €11.30 per hour in 2023.

Working time

You need to make sure that the extra hour doesn’t mean you’re breaching any working time regulations, too. All adult workers:

  • Must have at least 11 hours of rest time between shifts.
  • Are entitled to a 30-minute break if they work for more than six hours.
  • Must not work more than eight hours in a 24-hour period if they’re a night shift worker.
Remind staff of the changes

If you have staff due in work on Sunday morning, make sure you remind them about the clocks going back. Or some could turn up for their shift an hour early, which they definitely won’t get paid for.

By Alan Price

Alan Price is the CEO at BrightHR and COO at the Peninsula Group. A version of this article was previously published on the BrightHR blog.

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