The case concerned the Spanish trade union CCOO requesting the Spanish courts to rule on whether the local branch of the German owned Deutsche Bank had to establish a system to record employees' working hours. Their system only had measures in place to record overtime. The Spanish courts requested a ruling from the European Court of Justice, which found that a failure to have a recording system in place would mean employees’ would not be able to enforce their rights in relation to the limit on average weekly working hours, and to daily and weekly rest periods.
In the UK, the Working Time Regulations 1998 oblige employers to keep “adequate records” to demonstrate compliance with the 48-hour limit on the average week. However, there is no specific requirement to record all daily hours of work, nor daily or weekly rest periods.
The decision was not clear on what counted as working time i.e. did it include a quick email from a mobile handheld device in the evening? The flexibility of present day working practices could make accurate time recording difficult to implement.
ECJ decisions are binding and it will take some time for this to be incorporated into UK law. However, employers should be preparing to put recording measures in place to accurately reflect hours worked by staff.
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