Q: Do I have to pay my employee to attend team meetings?

A: Most likely, yes. You need to consider whether attending the meeting is “work”.

The Employment Court recently decided that staff meetings held before work by retailer Smiths City was “work”. These meetings were about 15 minutes long and took place each morning.

Smiths City had been issued an improvement notice by a Labour Inspector. The Labour Inspector said the staff who attend the meetings are working, which means time records need to be kept and staff need to be paid for attending the meetings.

Smiths City disputed this and eventually found itself in front of the Employment Court.

The Employment Court reminded us the enquiry would depend on the facts of each situation. In this instance, it assessed whether the morning meetings were an “integral and indispensable” part of employees’ “principal activity” as sales staff.

Even though Smiths City said the meetings were voluntary, staff said they did feel compelled to attend. The Court also noted the meetings were entirely about the business, only employees attended, the information given equipped the sales staff to do their job and to enable them to earn revenue for the company. It didn’t matter that the meetings were relatively informal. The meetings were “work”.

Remember, you cannot strictly apply factors to decide whether something is “work”. You should, however, still take the factors into account. The Courts have previously considered:

  • Is it an integral and indispensable part of the employee’s principal activity?
  • Constraints on the employee
  • Responsibilities of the employee
  • Benefit to the employer

If you are unsure about whether your employees should be paid for a certain situation or you have any other employment relations queries, contact the Restaurant Association on 0800 737 827.