Is Clocking in Coming Back?

In the UK, employers only currently required to keep adequate records to show that employees are not working in excess of 48 hours a week and that the rules on night working are complied with under regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998. A specific recording system is not needed, and employers can use records which are kept for other purposes, such as payroll, to monitor this. Additionally, there is no explicit obligation on employers to record daily and weekly rest periods.

However, the obligation placed on employers could be about to change. A decision handed down by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), in response to a Spanish Trade Union led litigation, stated that employers must now have adequate systems in place to measure the exact number of hours worked by staff.

There are several industries which ‘clocking in’ is a common part of an employee’s everyday routine, especially if there are a number of shifts or hourly paid staff. It can be a useful tool for recording the hours worked for calculating pay or overtime and for health and safety purposes by recording who is present in the building.

Recording worked hours may be more challenging for staff who are salaried, where it is less common to keep records. Although, could applying the same time recording measures in this circumstance be a positive step? In an environment which working through lunch is seen as the norm, recording when employees take their breaks could help to encourage staff to take time away from their desks.

However, the ECJ did highlight that the Working Time Regulation requirements on UK employers are lacking compared to the Working Time Directive. In response, the UK government raised the potential cost implication for employers setting up record systems which would be compliant. Although, with Brexit looming, it is unlikely that the government will take any immediate steps.

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