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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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Following a recent ethical audit I have been asked to put a

Customer Question

Following a recent ethical audit I have been asked to put a collective agreement in place which confirms workers agree to work more than 60 hrs per week in exceptional circumstances. We are in the agricultural business and bad weather can put us behind meaning hours may be high some weeks. The workers are happy to do the additional hours and have all signed a 48 hr opt out and they have regular breaks. I could do with a template or advice on how to create this agreement. We do not recognise a trade union but have elected worker reps. I have read a lot about this online but hoped it could be more simple than it looks, like a statement that each individual signs, or is it better to get them to sign something if they don't want to do over 60?
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 months ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today. A collective agreement is essentially a written agreement, like a contract, between the affected employees, their representatives and any unions. There is nothing too specific about it as long as it is a clear agreement in writing to summarise what the agreement is about and that it is accepted by all parties concerned. As you have no union here there is no need for a formal collective agreement and it can just be an agreement that is issued personally to each employee and they sign it to signify their acceptance, or an agreement which every individual counter signs. It may be better to have an individually signed agreement for every person as then you have a specific single document for that person to refer to.

When a worker opts out of the 48 hour week this is simply done by signing a letter to confirm this and there is no reason why the same cannot be done here as well.

I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Thank you that's helpful to know its simpler than I was envisaging. However if I currently have a 48 hr opt out all signed by everyone, why would I need one for 60 hrs? Also, do I therefore need both 48 and 60hr statements to be signed, or can I do away with the 48 and alter it to reflect 60 hrs? Sorry to be so confused,
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 months ago.

The official limit on a working week is 48 hours and that is what legally one would require an opt out for. I am not sure why you want to have a 60 hour opt out because if you have a 48h opt out then it allows the workers to work more than 48h, so it can go over 60 if necessary as well, without the need for a new opt out. SO really you only need the 48h opt out and if you have that on place you can leave things as they are

If your original question has been answered I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page - it only takes a second to do and is an important part of our process. I can still answer follow up questions afterwards if needed. Thank you

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46772
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
Ben Jones and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** just concerned that the ethical auditor who saw our 48 hr opt out signed by everyone was so stressed at some staff doing more than 60hrs. This is common in agriculture although does cause issues as the Ethical Trade Initiative states employees should not work more than 60. Maybe to satisfy and sign off the non conformance I will just issue a 6o hour clause, is it ok for me to remove the period of 17 weeks and state annually and get it resigned annually?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 months ago.

Hi there, the ethical requirements would be treated separate to the legal ones so there may actually be two sets of rules, working in parallel, although only the legal 48h week opt put will have legally binding effect.

Do not remove the 48h opt out as you still need that to cover yourself legally but for peace of mind you can issue a separate 60h opt out in the terms you wish to satisfy whatever requirements you need it for. That does mean you can remove reference to the 17 week average if needed.

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