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What to do if you need your staff to work overtime to finish a large order

by , 30 June 2015
You run a relatively small company. The bad economy has had an especially negative impact on small businesses, and you've felt it pretty hard. You've been able to stay in business and pay your personnel nonetheless.

However, you've now received a big order that's due by month end, and it's already one week into the month. You've told your employees that you're under big pressure to get the order done on time, and that if you don't, the client will cancel and you'll be liable for the expenses.


Yesterday, a severe storm took place and damaged power cables. As a result, your factory lost power and you had to send the personnel home as they couldn't work without power. You then gave everyone the memo to say that they need come in on Saturday to finish working to ensure everything's finished for your client my month-end.
Almost everyone refused, dishing out excuses from 'I'm painting my house this weekend' to 'I'm not paid to work overtime so why should I?'
If you lose this contract and the consequent money, you'll have no other choice but to let people go. What do you do? 
Here's the answer...

Check what your employment contracts say

If your employment contracts make provision for performing work over weekends, or working overtime due to your operational circumstances, you're entitled to demand they work overtime in this case. 
But, if an employee refuses and is able to give a reasonable excuse, you may have to excuse that employee. But, if the reasons for refusal are 'unacceptable', such as the ones you received, you may inform the employee/s accordingly that they must follow contractual agreements.
Anyone who fails to show up on the Saturday, you may proceed with disciplinary steps against for transgression. 
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On the other hand, your employment contracts might not make provision for overtime. In this case, you can try this…

Ask volunteers to help deal with the emergency

If your employees are aware their contracts don't make provision for overtime, it's likely they're not going to show up on a Saturday or stay after hours to finish work. In this case, you can try negotiating an agreement with them that allows for overtime.
If that doesn't work, your next best bet is to ask volunteers to help deal with the immediate emergency. Offer to pay them a premium or bonus over and above the standard overtime rate.

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