A new European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling has confirmed the importance of employers having a system in place to record hours of work for all employees.

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.

The ECJ has held that, in order to comply with the provisions of the Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC) on maximum weekly working time and daily and weekly rest, 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.”

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 advisable for employers to ensure all rest periods are specifically logged.

The ECJ 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.”

The EU Working Time Regulations were introduced in the UK under health and safety laws, but not all companies ensure regular practise of accurate time records. This ruling should serve as a reminder for employers to review their record keeping systems to ensure all working hours and breaks are properly logged.

With the current European elections, wavering Brexit deals and the political landscape in current disarray, complications around Brexit may be tough to follow. From an employment law perspective, all European Union directives must be followed unless a future UK Government legislates to amend them or a deal between the UK and Brussels is approved