A complaint was filed on 14 December 2017. The complainant claims that the factory workers worked excessive daily overtime hours in the weeks of 4 December and 11 December 2017. Aside from the extended working hours during the weekdays, the complainant claims that the workers worked on all Saturdays in December. The complainant was not aware of how and if the overtime is being paid. In Macedonia, overtime is legally limited to a maximum of eight hours per week and 190 hours per year. The employer is obliged to keep complete records of working hours, and overtime should be paid at a premium rate.
The complainant states that he/she was not informed of any representative bodies existing in the factory, and he/she said that up to now it has not been a practice to resolve the problem through the workers representatives.The Complainant wanted to file the complaint to FWF as the factory have been recently audited and believes that the situation with the working hours can be improved.
The complainant presented herself as someone who is not working in the factory but was calling on behalf of very close friends/relatives working in the factory, who did not feel comfortable to make this call.
Findings and conclusions
Overview of the complaint investigation
FWF conducted an audit in December 2017, but could not draw any conclusions regarding working hours, since the overtime hours were not properly registered. Therefore the investigation consisted of an interview with management regarding the actual complaint and document inspection for the period in question. The complainant was not involved in the meetings due to the fact that he/she does not work at the factory. The workers of the factory were not part of the investigation interview due to i) sensitive reaction with the factory owner and ii) the complaint was filed by person outside of the factory and was not representing any form of workers body.
At the meeting the factory's manager, general manager, FWF's Complaints Handler and a FWF complaints investigator were present. Regarding the complaint, management explained that December is always a peak season and all orders need to be completed before 16 December. Also, the month of December is full of holidays (mostly religious) and the management is trying to balance the working hours for this particular month. All the hours are administrated accordingly as a compensation hours and are available in the documents records. One example of this situation was on 8th December (National holiday) where the hours were officially registered as overtime and reported to the labour inspectorate according to the law. As it was a national holiday the workers that worked that day were allowed to use compensation hours on 19 December. Also in December 2017, several workers had compensated time off work by working additional working hours after the regular working time. Due to agreed deadlines with the partner (brand) the manager needs to manage the production process in a way that will meet the partner requirements but at the same time to find a balance in managing the working hours to be in line with the legal requirements. It is not always easy to manage and achieve this but the factory management is putting all their efforts in this direction and are trying to find the best model.
Management proposed several recommendations for the FWF complaints procedure. Firstly, he suggested that the complaints call needs to be supported with real names and that information shared via the phone first needs to be verified. Secondly, he recommended that FWF should first communicate the complaint with the factory before contacting the brand and that FWF should not jump to conclusions before the complaint is investigated.
The document investigation largely supported the management's explanation. The following documents were provided for the investigation:
• Wage list for all workers for month of December
• Wage calculation sheets for month of December
• Electronic attendance of workers for specific dates related to complaints
• Authorisation of the overtime working hours as submitted to the labour inspectorate
• Internal decisions for working time
• Pay slips of the wages as handed out to the workers for month of December
According to the payslips provided, actual recorded overtime and the electronic time record matched. The list of workers that worked during national holiday (December 8th) was properly recorded and information was submitted to the labour inspectorate. In total 29 workers worked on that day.
According to the electronic records none of the worker worked more than 40 hours during the week from 4-8 December. Only 29 workers worked 40 hours and the rest of the workers worked less 32 or less than 32 working hours. The official number of allowed working hours for that week was 32, as excluding work on 8th December due to public holiday. According to the provided documents overtime working hours are recorded properly and paid accordingly with premium rate of 50%.
Based on the provided payslips for the workers that have worked overtime, it is concluded that calculation of OT is integrated in the payslips and additional payment of these hours is recorded.
According to the electronic system, it can be confirmed that for the dates specified by the complainant, 29 workers worked overtime hours, but these are properly recorded and calculated for payment with premium rate within the payslip. Use of Compensation working hours is regulated with internal document and when workers work overtime they can ask to use compensation hours.
FWF recommends that management describes the regulation of working hours (including the use of overtime and compensation hours) in their policies and ensure that workers know about them.
04/25/2018 Conclusion of the investigation
The conclusion of the investigation is that the overtime hours pertaining to the complaint are properly recorded.
The specification for working hours, based on the inspected documents, showed that the overtime hours are within the legal framework and excessive working hours are not detected.
05/01/2018 Evaluation of the complaint
The complainant felt that the process took longer than expected.
FWF recommends involved brands to keep monitoring the performed overtime hours and the wage record system in the factory. It is recommended that management explain the overtime and compensation hours policy to all workers to avoid further confusion. Overtime hours should be communicated clearly on wage records and overtime hours should be voluntary. Workers are sometimes not aware that Saturdays are counted as overtime hours and should be paid 135%.
To verify the situation, FWF will plan a verification audit in the beginning of 2019.