A new European Union Court of Justice ruling is set to mean employers must be careful to record rest hours for their workers.
The landmark ruling places a “greater onus on employers” to ensure all hours are accurately measured so that workers have “proof”, if they need it, that their rights are being breached.
“Although the case was brought on behalf of a Spanish Trade Union, we must remember that, at this point, the UK is still a member of the European Union and that this could still be used as a precedent in UK courts,” said employment lawyer, Karen Coleman.
“In the UK, under Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998, employers already have to keep records to show that workers are not working in excess of 48 hours a week and that rules around night work are complied with, but are not explicitly required to record data to show that daily and weekly rest periods are met.
“In future, it would be wise for employers to ensure all rest periods are specifically logged.”
The CJEU decision came after Spanish Trade Union, the Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras, told the court that, under Spanish law, employers only have to keep a record of overtime hours worked by each worker at the end of each month. The court was given evidence that these records were not accurate and that 54 per cent of all overtime worked was not recorded.
The National High Court of Spain, which first heard the case, said failing to introduce adequate measures “deprives workers of an item of evidence essential for demonstrating that they have worked in excess of maximum working time limits and deprives their representatives of the necessary means for verifying whether the applicable rules on the matter were complied with.”
Karen said: “It is evident that, in the UK, we are already keeping good records. The EU Working Time rules were introduced in the UK under health and safety laws and there is no reason to believe that companies are not keeping adequate records.
“But this ruling may serve as a helpful reminder for employers to check their records and ensure all work breaks are properly logged.”
“The political complications around Brexit may be tough to follow, but from an employment law perspective, employers must remember that all European Union directives must be followed unless a future UK Government legislates to amend them.”