Read the latest news and blogs surrounding access control, time and attendance systems and integrated security solutions with Tensor plc.
Trade Union Amicus has won a difinitive test case ruling that the Working Time Directive should be applied to all UK oil employees working offshore. Amicus has campaigned over many years for its members in the offshore industry not to be exempted from the Working Time Directive. Now, an employment tribunal brought by the union has found in favour of offshore workers and ruled that the directive applies beyond the territorial waters and includes offshore workers. Employers had argued that the directive only applied to the UK and waters within a 12-mile radius of the coastline. The companies involved are expected to appeal. The European Commission had previously upheld Amicus’s claim on application of the Working Time Directive for offshore workers, ruling that they, like other professions, are entitled to four weeks paid annual leave. This new judgement has stated that the offshore workers pattern of one week on and one week off cannot be considered as a period of paid annual leave, and that offshore workers should be entitled to the full four weeks annual leave. The working times of all offshore employees can be easily calculated with a good time and attendance system. It can calculate the number of days a worker has remaining of holiday, and is able to accurately log the amount of time a worker has spent at work during any particular period.
NHS Working Hours
A recent report in the British Medical Journal has warned that many doctors within the NHS are exhausted. A number of UK hospitals have reviewed shift patterns following the adoption of the EU Working Time Directive, and have found that many junior doctors were regularly working a 91-hour week as a series of night shifts. Recent studies in the US have shown a 36% rise in serious medical errors caused by trainees working between 77 and 81 hours per week, compared to those working around 65 hours per week, with the risks increasing exponentially with each consecutive night shift worked. The British Medical Journal has called for staffing patterns to be reassessed and staff scheduled for only a single or double night shift. It has also suggested that the NHS should follow the example of the aviation industry, which has introduced set sleep periods for crew flying overnight. Dr Simon Eccles, chairman of the British Medical Association’s Junior Doctors’ Committee said that "the problem is not necessarily the Working Time Directive itself, but the way hospitals have responded to it". He also said that although the directive was implemented in order to reduce overall working hours, "moving everyone on to shifts is the only way to deal with the problems thrown up by the directive". The NHS must now review its working practices in order to maximise doctors’ safety and efficiency, and to safeguard the interests of patients. An efficient time and attendance system eliminates the problem of monitoring the work patterns of doctors and so ensures that those employees working difficult shift patterns or very long hours are noticed quickly. This enables changes to be made to work schedules, thus ensuring the safety of patients and doctors alike.
Ears Recommended for Biometrics
A British scientist has proposed that the unique pattern inside each individual’s ear could be used as a biometric identifier, in the same way that sub-dermal fingerprints are used. It is a common fact that your ears and nose carry on growing throughout your life, however your ears in particular do not change that much as you get older, unlike other body parts. This gives them a unique advantage for identification purposes in terms of age and expression. The recent Governmental plans to introduce ID cards and passwords has drawn light on advances in biometrics, which is typically taken from fingerprints, teeth, and the retina. Tensor have been incorporating sub-dermal fingerprint technology into their systems since October 2002 in order to register users for its time attendance, access control, and visitor monitoring systems. Facial recognition used by the police has been described as the biggest forensic breakthrough since DNA, however the problems of people’s faces changing has prompted a fresh search for a new source of biometric recognition. The discussion goes on, but you can be assured that if and when a new alternative to the humble fingerprint is discovered, Tensor will not be far behind in providing the equipment to cope with it.
UK Wins Round One
The UK has won the first stage of the fight to maintain its opt out from the European Working Time Directive. EU employment ministers were due to make a decision on removing the clause after the European Parliament voted in May to scrap the opt out by 2012, but it is understood, enough ministers opposed the plan to prevent the vote taking place. The issue can only return to parliament once ministers have voted and the issue is likely to drag into 2006. The European Parliament and a number of EU member states want all nations to uphold a working week of no longer than 48 hours, and with unions claiming that long hours sap creativity while increasing stress, pressure is building on those countries in favour of the opt out to reconsider their position. The UK still maintain that the opt out is vital for competitiveness and job creation, and believe that if employees wish to work longer than 48 hours, they should be free to do so. The issue is not likely to return until next year, especially as the UK takes over the EU presidency for six months from 1 July, and will almost inevitably aim to put the divisive matter firmly at the back of the agenda. What can be certain is that tighter controls will be placed over industry to ensure that accurate clocking times are logged for each individual employee within a company. A good time and attendance system will ensure that your company is able to easily abide by this legislation.
Inefficient Office Practices
British employees are wasting up to 640 hours – that is 80 working days every year – as a result of inefficient office practices. New research suggests that the average office worker is losing nearly three hours (160 minutes) of potentially productive time every day. According to the research, the number one time wasting culprit is technology, with slow personal computers (PCs), computers crashing and print jams causing the average British employee to waste up to 48 mins each day. Office-based employees also cited that dealing with colleagues can be a time drain, with the average employee wasting 34 minutes on this every day. This is closely followed by time spent dealing with unnecessary phone and conference calls (26 minutes per day) and attending unnecessary meetings (23 minutes per day). It is true that no office can ever be 100% efficient, but it’s ironic that so much time is being wasted on the very devices that we trust to streamline office processes. Whilst we all accept that the phone and PC have a vital role to play in making the office more efficient, it would seem that office workers believe they can also complicate life – 55% of office-based employees believe technology can create extra work and just over half (53%) disagree that office processes are now simpler than 10 years ago. Furthermore, 73% of those interviewed cited unnecessary emails and 88% unnecessary telephone calls as frustrating. In fact, the barrage of unwanted communication has become so bad that nearly one quarter (23%) of office workers interviewed are considering a career change to a new non office-based job. Despite this general antipathy towards technology however, 90% of office workers surveyed agree that automated systems which only need to be set up once – such as efficient time and attendance clocking machines – help to run their lives effectively. With a high proportion of British full-time employees working long hours, psychologists believe that British businesses may be able to cut down on working hours by addressing such inefficiencies. Top office time wasters in every day office life: Slow PC /PC crashing and general technological failures/errors and print jams (48 mins) Time wasted dealing with colleagues (34 mins) Unnecessary phone /conference calls (26 mins) Unnecessary meetings (23 mins) Sifting through unnecessary e-mails (16 mins) Searching for files / info that hasn’t been filed in the right place (13 mins)
Working Time Directive UK Opt-Out Latest
As we predicted earlier, the European Parliament has voted today to scrap the UK Working Time Directive opt-out by 2010. However, it’s not all bad news. In the horse trading likely to take place in Brussels over the coming months it is possible that the UK opt-out will be retained, but that employers will have to keep better, more accurate, records of the hours worked by their staff and the individual employee review milestones favoured by the EU. With a good computerised Time & Attendance system this should be a relatively straight forward matter.
European Parliament votes to scrap the UK Opt-out
The Employment and Social Affairs Committee of European Parliament voted on 20th April 2005 to scrap the UK Working Time Directive opt-out. The vote is expected to be ratified by the full Parliament of MEP’s in May. This means that UK companies will be subject to the rules of the 48 hour working week and the allied regulations relating to night workers and shift working. Businesses that have not already done so, will have to install accurate time keeping systems and maintain records for six years of the hours worked by employees including all breaks associated with the working day. In practice, this means introducing a computerised Time & Attendance system. Companies who regularly request their employees to work overtime must be particularly vigilant of the regulations. UK employer organisations, including the CBI, have campaigned hard against the opt-out removal, but to no avail. Fortunately, the cost of a Smart Card Attendance Monitoring system from Tensor to enable you to stay within the legislation is only Â£1,495.
Tensor supports PC’s for schools in Africa
Tensor is supporting a project by Nazir Jessa, Chairman of Watford Electronics Ltd., to donate any out-of-date PC systems to schools in Africa, mainly in Tanzania and Kenya. Nazir needs to collect a sufficient quantity of half-reasonable systems (unfortunately, PC’s beyond repair or 386’s will not be of much use) to fill five 20 feet containers. As an extra incentive for business, the donation of old PC’s will take away their costly responsibility under the EU Disposal of Electronic Waste directive and at the same time help African children with their school work. His Excellency Hassan Gumbo Kibelloh, the Tanzanian High Commissioner in the UK, has made a special plea to UK businesses, impressing the grave situation facing schools in Tanzania due to an acute shortage of Text books and PC’s. He has explained that the Internet is the only way of downloading information that text books would normally provide; but without computers this is impossible. He has given an undertaking that any containers loaded with second-hand PC’s arriving at the port of Daressalaam will be given "Special Clearance" without any hindrance from the tax collectors. All transportation costs of the containers to Africa will be paid for by Watford Electronics Ltd. Nazir has received assurances from friends and colleagues in Tanzania and Kenya that once the goods are off loaded, that they will assist in refurbishing the machines and the hard drives at no cost to the schools. Computers will be distributed to various schools in Tanzania that have mains electricity "on tap" as a gift from private businesses of the UK. Tensor will be donating PC’s and is also asking any other UK businesses with surplus PC’s to do likewise. The procedure is simple, Â· Email Nazir Jessa at firstname.lastname@example.org of your intentions Â· Arrange delivery of the PC’s to Watford town (only 10 minutes drive from M1 Junction 5), which will be used as a collection point in the first instance.If you wish to deliver five or less systems, then you can deliver the PC’s to Watford Electronics Ltd. in Luton Once the PC’s are in place, Nazir will have photos of the happy faces of the children on a Website for you all to see. If any of the donating companies would like to visit the recipient schools to see their ‘donation at work’, then they will be most welcome.
European Commission One Step Nearer To Removing UK Opt-out
On 19th May the European Commission moved one step nearer to removing the UK opt-out on the Working Time Directive by publishing its views, so far, of the practice. The Commission prefers the removal of the current right of UK workers to opt out of the 48-hour maximum working week. However, it did suggest one option allowing retention of the UKs individual opt-out but with conditions that would, in effect, make it unworkable by Requiring opt-out agreements only to be made with worker representatives or trade unions The signing of employment contracts and the agreement to opt-out to take place at different points in time Employers regularly reviewing an employees opt-out agreement to see if they still agree Surely, it is only a matter of time before the opt-out goes. UK employers with no electronic method of recording employee hours can do so simply and cheaply with a WinTA Lite system.