Is it time to start recording your working hours?

26th March 2019

Is it time to start recording your working hours?

A recent statement from an Advocate General suggests that it should be necessary for employers to introduce systems to measure the actual duration of the working day and working week. While the opinion is not binding,it raises some key questions for employers.

The Spanish Courts have referred a case to the European Court of Justice for a ruling on the compliance of the Spanish law with the Working Time Directive. The Working Time Directive was implemented in the UK through the Working Time Regulations with the aim of ensuring the health and safety of workers in the workplace is fully and effectively protected.

The claim has been brought by a number of trade unions seeking to establish that Deutsche Bank, the employer, is obliged to set up a system which records actual hours worked by workers. Deutsche Bank only had in place an absence calendar which notes when a worker is in or out of the workplace but not the actual time worked, such as any overtime completed.

When a case is referred to the European Court of Justice an Advocate General will often provide their non-binding opinion on the case. Advocate General Pitruzzela has provided his opinion on this case.

In summary, Pitruzzela believes that systems should be in place to record the hours worked by workers to enable them to enforce their rights under the Working Time Directive. Without a system recording working hours, workers do not have evidence to use in claims for a breach of the Working Time Directive which in turn is likely to deter workers from bringing these claims. Therefore, Pitruzzela believes that failure to have systems in place to record working hours is not compliant with the Working Time Directive which states that member states, such as Spain and the UK, must take the measures necessary to ensure workers enjoy the rights which the directive guarantees.

Considerations for Employers

This opinion highlights a potential extension of the Working Time Regulations which currently only requires working time to be recorded for night workers and average working time. With workers in the modern workplace commonly able to work from home, on the go and in the workplace without working hours being recorded it is no surprise that TUC has recently published that employees in the UK did more than £32 billion worth of unpaid overtime last year. In light of these figures, it may only be a matter of time before extra protection is put in place for workers.

While we await the decision from the European Court of Justice, businesses may wish to consider whether a review of their systems and practices would be necessary to pre-empt any changes in the law.



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