Lowaters Case Study

One approach to managing peaks and troughs and keeping the core workforce employed throughout the year is the idea of Annualised Hours.

Lowaters specialise in ornamental plants and employ around 25 people – most of them have been with the company for a long time and staff turnover is about 9% per annum. You can download the full 4 page case study here.

We asked Maria Fox, Company Secretary about Annualised Hours– what is it and why do it?  Here’s her description.

“It simplifies administration and gives us the flexibility we need to run the business while delivering some real advantages to the employees. They are all effectively on salary with fixed monthly payments. We can flex the hours worked over the year – when we are busy we work longer and when things are quiet, in the winter, they can take time off.”

How it works

“Everyone other than directors is contracted to work 39 hours on average over 52 weeks of the year. This gives us a total of 2028. Supervisors are contracted to do a hundred more to cover planning and paperwork making a total of 2128. This runs over our financial year from 1st December.”

A simple spreadsheet is updated from time sheets which takes the actual hours worked and compares them with a target distribution of the Annualised Hours to represent the expected hours to be worked over the year.

Maria Fox says “We email them a copy of their sheet at the beginning of the year so they can keep track of their own progress as they go. We can keep track of how many hours they do. If they come in +/- 50 hours we just adjust it up or down for the next year. If there’s a bigger discrepancy we’ll look at the job structure – or some retraining. “

“We’ve more control over our wage budget and can flex staff up and down according to weather and work load. It simplifies the wage roll because effectively everyone is salaried. We believe it helps lower staff turnover.”

“Employees like it because they know what money comes in each month so budgeting for the household is easier and helps manage tax credits because the money doesn’t vary from month to month. They can deal with sickness waiting days because they have the whole year to make up their hours and they don’t lose money for short term illness.”

We believe it gives us the flexibility that 21st century business demands and allows us to accommodate people who need to work non regular hours.