Recently the HMRC announced that it had made a £4m clampdown on companies who had failed to pay minimum wage to their staff. This included companies who required staff to work outside of contracted hours without pay even where they were salaried. One company had to pay back more than £193,000 to 3,500 staff.
This got me to thinking about pay and hours in the sector and the fact that many organisations might be sailing a little too close to the wind even if they are not aware of it. For companies who ensure 40 hour- weeks there is little to worry about, but where this creeps up to 60 hours we might have an issue. Remember, if you are working on site the travel to and from work can count as your working hours as it is classed as extraordinary – in other words, you couldn’t move closer to your job as it moves regularly; where this happens the hours can be included in your working day.
When I worked on site, if you included travel time, then 60 – 70 hour weeks were the norm depending upon the need to work evenings and weekends. If we therefore base the maths on an average of 62 hours worked each week and you are asking those hours of your staff but paying them less than £20,000pa, you could be breaching the law.
The law aside, we need to consider the message that this sends to people in construction about how they are valued by the business. Have a look at how the following salaries look when compared next to their hourly wage based on a 62 hour working week – it’s hardly enticing is it?
If we are looking to attract the best people in the sector we need to start considering how well our pay stacks up to their input, otherwise we will not only struggle to attract the best people into the sector but also find ourselves in an industry where those that do remain are burnt out and under appreciated.