An employee is free to change an employee’s working hours at any time. This includes either a reduction of hours, increase in hours or change to the employee's working hours. An employer should fully analyze and consider how making a change impacts its employees before moving forward with the change. Though laws do not require prior notification to employees before making changes to employee’s working hours, researching the impact, preparing how to deliver the message and expecting some employee dissatisfaction is good business sense.
Consult with your company attorney to determine if there is any legal impact to changing an employee’s working hours. For example, if increasing an employee’s hours will give him overtime hours, understand the state and federal regulations regarding overtime hours.
Evaluate the impact changing the hours may have on eligibility for benefits. Some employers require employees to work a certain number of hours to be eligible for insurance and other benefits. Employers may charge different rates for insurance coverage based on whether the employee is full or part time. Make policy changes as you see necessary.
Recognize the effect changing hours may have on unemployment. If you reduce hours, you may have more employees eligible for unemployment. Also, some states may see a change in hours as a reason to collect unemployment if the employee leaves the job due to this change. This could lead to a change in the amount of unemployment taxes your company must pay.
Document any companywide changes to employee’s working hours in your employee handbook, policies, intranet and other relevant human resources documents. Create a frequently asked questions document to distribute to those affected if the change could potentially cause significant strife or discontent among workers.
Speak to each employee directly who is affected by the change in hours. Have a private individual meeting to discuss the changes. If this is a department- or companywide change in policy, you may prefer to meet with the team as a whole rather than individually. Make sure that each employee affected clearly understand the change and its impact on them.
Francine Richards is a licensed multi-state insurance agent with years of human resources and insurance industry experience. Her work has appeared on Blue Cross Blue Shield websites and newsletters, the Houston Chronicle and The Nest. Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Maryland.