The new ECJ ruling on recording working hours

What you don’t measure you can’t manage. An age-old principle – but a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) means that what you don’t measure can land you in very hot water. The case was brought by a Spanish trade union against the Spanish subsidiary of Deutsche Bank, but it has implications for all employers and most of all in sectors such as retail and hospitality, where variable shifts and flexible hours are the norm.

In essence, the ECJ held that to ensure that you are complying with the provisions of the EU Working Time Directive and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, you must accurately record any time worked by an employee, every day.

Specifically, the ECJ ruled that, in order to guarantee employees’ rights, EU 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.” It is no longer sufficient to track overtime alone, as is the practice in many businesses.

National labour laws & compliance in the UK

The case also demonstrated that employers who are challenged cannot rely on previous interpretations of national law. National legislators will need to update labour laws, but employers should not wait – they need to comply with this ruling now.

And before you utter the word we all like to avoid…Brexit…that may not make any difference.

Currently under the UK’s own Working Time Regulations (WTR) “employers in the UK are obliged to keep records for two years that are adequate to show that the statutory limits are not being exceeded, for example, to show a worker’s working time does not exceed 48 hours per week on average (unless the worker has opted out)”. That is the latest advice from labour law specialists Burges Salmon.

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Digital time-recording solutions are a must

Without a technology-based solution, this is going to be difficult in sectors where flexible working hours such as retail and hospitality, where people work variable shifts to cover different opening hours, and with busy and slack periods. If working hours are recorded manually, it is not only extremely time-demanding, especially in multi-location businesses such as restaurant chains, but also inefficient. Mistakes are inevitable, which could leave you open to a legal challenge in the light of the ECJ ruling.

Experts in labour law are already arguing that “employers may wish to explore digital time-recording options that can be accessed from employees’ smartphones, tablets or laptops – anywhere, anytime. Technology can provide excellent means for allowing for flexible working hours whilst keeping track of the statutory requirements regarding working hours, overtime and breaks”.

They point out that at the same time, technology solutions need to be GDPR-compliant.

Stay labour law and GDPR compliant with Bizimply!

Bizimply customers have nothing to worry about! They already have a solution that records staff working hours to the second. Fully compliant with local labour law and the new ECJ ruling, Bizimply gives employers the record-keeping they need to demonstrate that employees receive their proper entitlements.

With Bizimply, you can easily store records for each employee for the required three years, while being fully compliant with GDPR. If you are not yet a Bizimply user, is the time to review your time-recording systems.

Get in touch with us and ask for a demo!