EU court sends time recording warning to employers


EU Court of Justice sends time recording warning to employers

The Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU) this month handed down a ruling that requires employers to have a ‘reliable and accessible system enabling the duration of time worked each day by each worker to be measured’.

Spanish dispute

The case originated in Spain where a Spanish Trade Union made a claim against Deutsche Bank SAE. The trade union sought an order from the national court confirming that the bank was obliged to record the daily working hours of its employees. Spanish working time legislation only required overtime hours to be recorded.

CJEU ruling

The CJEU ruled that the purpose of the EU directive on working time is to ensure the protection of the living and working conditions of workers and their health and safety. Member states are therefore required to ensure workers are receiving minimum daily and weekly rest periods and that there are limitations on working hours.

This CJEU clarified that member states ‘must require employers to set up an objective, reliable and accessible system enabling the duration of time worked each day by each worker to be measured’.

Does the ruling affect Irish employers?

Irish employer’s obligations in relation to recording working hours are set out in the Organisation of Working Time Act (OWTA).

The OWTA already requires Irish employers to record daily and weekly working hours in a reliable manner. Employers are not permitted to state that an employee’s working hours are as set out in his/her contract of employment.

Employers must ensure they are recording;

  • Actual daily and weekly working hours, including overtime whether paid or unpaid
  • Breaks
  • Any days or hours leave

The CJEU ruling does not, therefore, appear to impact on Irish working time laws.

Challenges of remote work

Many organisations have now moved their time management systems online which allows employees to clock in and out remotely. This provides for accurate recording of hours worked and allows organisations to gather and review data on working hours in a reliable and timely manner and to comply with their obligation to record working time under the OWTA.

The risk to employers was evident last year when an employee successfully made a claim against her employer for working in excess of a 48-hour week. Out-of-hours email correspondence was used against the employer in evidence.

Click here for a report on the case.

Manual timesheets should be clear

Manual timesheets are another means of recording working hours but employers must ensure that employees know what they are expected to record. Where employees submit timesheets, are they aware that all working hours must be documented and accounted for, as well as the duration of their breaks?

Will Irish working time laws be changed?

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has stated that any implications for the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), as a result of the ruling will be ‘carefully considered’.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection stated that it will examine the ruling in detail and determine whether any amendments to Irish legislation will be necessary.

In the meantime, it is worth noting that the WRC receives more claims under the OWTA than under any other employment legislation. This EU ruling is likely to see the WRC increase its focus on the area of working time.

Need to review your time recording systems? 

Please contact the advice line on +353 1 886 0350 to speak with a consultant regarding this ruling or any other HR issue affecting your organisation.

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