Q1. "In which areas is there a potential clash between established company policy and the requirements of the WTR?"

As the newly appointed UK HR manager of the Canadian hotel chain Sleepwell Holdings (SH), it is crucial to underscore potential policy divergences with UK legal frameworks.  The Working Time Regulations (1998) and the Equality Act (2010) are of particular significance.  This report will examine four potential conflicts with SH policy, and a second report will recommend convergent strategies to reconcile such differences.

The first of four anticipated conflicts come from SH's ‘split shift’ practice.  Currently, the Canadian practice utilises one four-hour shift in the morning and one in the evening, according to demand.  However, in the UK, the Working Time Regulations (1998) necessitates workers receive a daily rest period of 11 hours and a weekly rest period of 24 hours.  The regulation also stipulates workers receive a rest break of 20 minutes if the working day is upward of six hours and only work a maximum of 48 hours per week.  Therefore, if the ‘split shift’ policy results in workers working longer than six hours without a rest break or causes them to exceed the daily/weekly rest period limits, it would violate the regulation.

The second comes from the ‘on-call’ system.  Under Working Time Regulations (1998), ‘on-call’ workers are entitled to remuneration for time spent during a rest period.  It could violate the regulations if ‘on-call’ workers are required to work during these rest periods.  Exceptions exist in the UK, i.e., the emergency services, but the hotel sector does not qualify for an exception.

The third derives from SH policy to preference ‘school leavers’ as SH employees against other age groups.  This undisputedly violates the Equality Act 2010, forbidding age discrimination.  And finally, the fourth conceivable conflict comes from SH's provision of ‘live-in’ accommodation.  If ‘live-in’ employees are likely to work during the night (i.e., 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.) or during guaranteed rest periods, they will be entitled to a minimum of 11 hours rest per day and 24 hours rest per week.  A distinct minimum night rate would also be required.


Q2. "Recommend to Sleepwell's operations director what steps or options might the company be able to take to reconcile these differences?"

This is the second report by the newly appointed UK HR manager of the Canadian hotel chain Sleepwell Holdings (SH).  This proposal will recommend potential approaches to the operations director to reconcile the differences identified in the first report between SH’s policies and the UK’s legal framework.

The first recommendation is implementing an effective employee recording and tracking system for working hours and rest breaks.  In compliance with the Canada Labour Code, it is already SH policy to track, record, and maintain such records for at least three years.  Implementing and adapting such a system for UK operations will ensure SH complies with the Working Time Regulations (1998).  Integrating SH's ‘split shift’ and ‘on-call’ policies will be particularly useful.  Both policies may need adaption to the Working Time Regulations (1998) to authenticate that employees are receiving entitled rest time and night rate remuneration.

The second recommendation is to tailor SH’s equality/inclusivity policy to the UK work environment.  The hiring preference of Canadian operations toward ‘school leavers’ exposes SH to potential claims of discrimination under the Equality Act (2010).  To mitigate the risk of expatriated employees unintentionally violating the Equality Act (2010), promoting inclusive hiring practices aligned to the Act is advisable without committing age bias.  Employees could review, sign, and date updated SH equality policy guidelines ahead of UK operations.

By extension to the latter point, the third and final recommendation is to facilitate training and awareness workshops on changes to SH policy to comply with the UK’s legal frameworks.  Expatriated employees and managers should be mandated to participate in these workshops to promote cultural understanding and mitigate potential legal violations or disputes.  The workshops will also provide a forum to inform and support necessary adjustments to the UK work environment.  It would be valuable to establish a regular review of UK legal changes to ensure SH policies conform to UK employment frameworks.  This could be achieved by associating SH with hotel industry bodies and/or professional organisations in the UK.


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