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

In a statement from the department which falls under the Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, it is noted that in December, businesses classified as shops under the Shops Act, are usually open for extended periods of time.

However, the department advises that while shop owners may request employees to work overtime, it is not compulsory for employees to work extended shifts.

“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 work cannot be performed by them,” says the statement.

Business owners are also reminded that employees are entitled to two off days per week, and employees are also permitted a lunch break after four-and-a-half hours of work on a given day.

It has also been emphasized that in order 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 work day; 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 is therefore applied as overtime payment,” the department states.

Shop owners are reminded that 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. This means that 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 regarding a ‘closed’ Public Holiday or other queries, persons are asked to contact the Labour Department at 535-1506 through to 535-1512, 535-1533 or 535-1566.

Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations

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