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The Labour Department is reminding shop owners and staff, especially in the distributive sector; that there are specific guidelines to be followed for general operations and overtime periods during the Christmas Season.

During the month of December, businesses classified as shops under the Shops Act, are usually open for extended periods of time. Shop owners are therefore reminded that while cooperation regarding their overtime requests is expected, it is not compulsory for employees to work extended shifts.

Additionally, reasonable notice should be given to staff members who are asked to work additional hours, unless the requests are made in unforeseen circumstances. Employees should also be guided by this practice, when they cannot fulfill assigned periods of overtime work.

Business owners are also reminded that employees are entitled to two off days per week. They are also permitted a lunch break after four-and-a-half hours of work on a given day. To ensure the proper allocation of wages during the yuletide season, employers and staff should be mindful of the stipulations governing overtime pay.

Overtime rates apply for any work done after eight hours or after those hours which may be less than eight but stipulated in individual contracts of employment in a normal workday, or more than five days and 40 hours in a work week.  As the legislated rate of pay for a Shop Assistant is $6.25 per hour, the rate of one and a half times (1½) is therefore applied as overtime payment.

The Ministry of Labour has emphasised that an employee does not have to work an eight-hour day to qualify for overtime even in instances where the day’s work does not extend to eight hours. For example, if an employee is only rostered six hours and he/she is asked to work beyond those hours on any given day, then he/she becomes entitled to overtime pay for that day.

Shop Assistants are entitled to be paid double their normal rate of pay, if they are required to work on an allotted off day, or on a Public Holiday. In addition, employers are especially reminded that Christmas Day is a closed Public Holiday. Therefore, a licence must first be obtained from the Chief Labour Officer in order to open for business on that day.

For further information on the licence application process or other queries, persons may contact the Labour Department at 535-1500.


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