Have you ever called a team meeting outside of work hours? Or expected staff to arrive early to be briefed on work for the day?

Expecting your staff to attend unpaid meetings can result in costly consequences for employers. Our employment lawyers can advise you on all your obligations as an employer and guide you through tricky management issues.  

Large National Retailer Ordered to Pay Workers for Unpaid Morning Briefings

Smith City Group Case Study

Every morning for 15 years the Smith City Group Limited conducted a short meeting with the sales staff before opening its stores to customers.  Attendance at these meetings was expected, but no wage and time records were kept.  The sales staff who attended were not paid for their time.

The Labour Inspector considered that the Smith City sales staff who attended these meetings were working, so the company should have kept records of the time its employees attended and pay them for doing so. 

Smith City argued that the meetings were not compulsory and no disciplinary action was taken against staff if they did not attend them.  However, in a decision dated 8 May 2018 the Employment Court disagreed and said that  “[t]he expectation to attend, and the pressure placed on staff to do so, was direct and forceful…The practical reality for sales staff was that to satisfy this expectation, and so as not to be seen as poor performers, they had to attend”.

The Outcome

The Court ordered Smith City to calculate arrears of any pay below the minimum wage for all current and former employees for the past six years (the statutory limitation period for legal action).  The Labour Inspector has now encouraged any other employers who are failing to pay employees for staff meetings, handover times, briefings, and some travel to and from work sites, to address the issue without delay because “they cannot continue to plead ignorance.”

For more information

Adhering to good employment practices means paying your staff for all time expected of them and understanding all your obligations as an employer. Our employment lawyer Carolyn Heaton has the expertise to help you navigate tricky employment and management issues before they become a problem.

Give Carolyn a call today on 04 495 8908 or email Carolyn.heaton@morrisonkent.com to arrange a consultation suited to your situation. 

If you’ve faced similar circumstances in your workplace, give Carolyn a call to discuss how we can seek the best outcome for you.