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

In 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 overtime requests is expected, it is not compulsory for employees to work extended shifts.

In such instances, 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 assigned periods of overtime cannot be met.

Business owners have also been reminded that employees are entitled to two off days per week; and are also permitted a lunch break if they are required to work more than four-and-a-half hours 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 in a normal work day, or more than five days in a work week. The overtime rate for Shop Assistants must be paid at one and a half times the normal rate, which should not be less than $6.25 per hour.

Shop Assistants are also 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 license must be obtained from the Chief Labour Officer in order to open for business on that day.

For further information on the license application process or other queries, persons are asked to contact the Labour Department at 535-1500.

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