EU Ruling Forces UK Bosses to Record Staff Work Hours

By Nicola Mullineux
22 May 2019

The European Court of Justice has ruled that bosses must have a system in place to record every hour that employees work. And it applies to UK businesses, too. Here’s what this means for you…

EU judgement impacts UK businesses

Under UK law, you can’t force employees to work more than 48 hours a week on average unless they opt out of Regulation 4 of the Working Time Regulations.

But until now, there was no need for you to record all working hours. Nor did you have to show that staff had taken regular breaks and rest periods between working days. That’s about to change…

Because the European Court of Justice ruling is legally binding in the UK. And as it came before the UK left the EU, it will remain legally binding after Brexit.

So, if you faced legal action in relation to working time records, a UK court would have to take the EU ruling into account.

That means you need to prove that you accurately measure your employees’ working hours and their break periods. And if you don’t, you could face a hefty fine or even a criminal conviction

Why have the rules changed so suddenly?

It’s because of a groundbreaking legal case between one of Spain’s biggest trade unions and one of Germany’s biggest banks.

The trade union argued that Deutsche Bank had a duty to record the actual hours worked each day by full-time employees. The bank argued that its only obligation under Spanish law was to record overtime hours.

Eventually, the Spanish courts sent the case to the European Court of Justice. To cut a long story short, the trade union won. 

How do I protect my business?

Set up a way of recording staff hours and when they take breaks, especially if you have employees who often work unpaid overtime.

There are lots of ways to measure working hours. For example, some businesses make staff track their working hours each day using timesheets.

But it’s more reliable to use a system where employees can clock in and out. For example, Blip (part of the BrightHR software provided by Croner) is a mobile app that lets you automatically record when workers arrive and leave—including when they take breaks.  

It gives you instant data on your employees’ real working hours, without the need to manually keep track of staff. And most importantly, it helps you stay legally compliant.

Speak to an expert

Whenever there’s a big legal update, Croner helps you to protect your business and prepare for the future.

Find out how to measure your workers’ hours, and what to do if staff are working too much. Call one of our friendly employment law experts on 01455 858 132 or request a call back here.

About the Author

Nicola Mullineux

Nicola Mullineux, as Group Content Manager, leads a team of employment law content writers who produce guidance and commentary on employment law, case law and key HR developments. She has written articles for national publications for over 10 years and regularly helps to shape employment of the future by taking part in Government consultations on employment law change.


Nicola Mullineux

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