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Can the period over which my average hours are calculated be varied?
You cannot agree to change the reference period as an individual, but it is possible for it to be changed by agreement between your employer and all the staff involved. This can be done in two ways:
- through a collective agreement between a recognised union and the employer; or
- through a workforce agreement (where there are no recognised unions).
A workforce agreement requires the employer to organise elections for representatives who can then conclude an agreement with the employer.
There are two main ways that the reference period can be varied through either type of agreement:
- Rather than a rolling reference period, you can agree to count consecutive blocks of time. So the first 17 weeks of the year will be the first reference period, and the second reference period will start in week 18.
- You can agree a longer reference period. Some agreements extend it to 52 weeks, thus allowing very long hours during the peak seasons and much shorter hours off-peak.
Don't give away your working time rights for nothing. If you're prepared to vary your hours in this way to suit your employer, it's only fair that you should get something in return such as higher pay or more holiday.