Employers to accurately record hours worked by staff

5th February 2019 2:16 pm Comments Off on Employers to accurately record hours worked by staff

On 31st January, an Advocate General (AG) of the European Court of Justice (CJEU) opined that in order to protect the health and safety of workers, it is necessary for employers to accurately record their hours of work each day and week. Otherwise it would be difficult to prove compliance with the limits on working time.

Common sense you might think, but neither the EU Working Time Directive nor the UK Working Time Regulations (WTR) actually require this, as such. Indeed the AG stated (para 70 of his opinion)  “I would add that, even though Directive 2003/88 does not expressly provide for such an obligation, it follows from the foregoing [i.e. his earlier comments] that such an obligation is instrumental in, and essential to the attainment of the objectives which the directive pursues and to the enjoyment of the rights which it confers on individuals.”

In practice, many UK (and European) employers rely on employment contracts showing contractual hours and work diaries showing holidays as therefore recording hours worked, policed (if at all) by occasional management comments such as “go home”. If the AG’s opinion is followed by the CJEU, common practices will be unlawful and thus leave employers open to further claims. The reality is probably less concerning, but note, the claim was against Deutsche Bank (in Spain), not against a blue collar business. When a disgruntled employee seeks to argue they have worked excessive hours, they may soon also be able to argue that their employer was in breach of the WTR for not recording their hours worked.

The AG is a lawyer who gives an opinion, which is then read by the CJEU Judges before making their decision. The CJEU will consider the case shortly and may decide not to follow the opinion, but in practice they often do. Brexit arguably makes no difference in this regard (who really knows – let’s be honest), so be warned, all employers may soon need to implement systems to accurately record the working time of their staff.

If you need advice on this or on any other employment/labour/work law topic, please get in touch with Craig Havard by email on craig.havard@colemans.co.uk or telephone 01628 631051.

Categorised in: Employment Law

This post was written by Colemans Solicitors LLP

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