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Several weeks ago, we covered the ‘Opinion’ of the Advocate General of the European Union Court of Justice (ECJ), in which he suggested that EU members should order businesses to keep records of the exact hours worked by their full-time employees, in order to fully comply with the requirements of the Working Time Regulations.

See more here of that initial opinion.

As we mentioned in our coverage at the time, the Advocate General’s statement was not a binding judgement.

However, the ECJ has followed his suggestion and ruled that EU member states must ensure their employers set up:

“an objective, reliable and accessible system enabling the duration of time worked each day by each worker to be measured.”

(from paragraph 60 of the provisional judgement, found here).

The ECJ considered it necessary to explicitly record that information because without clear data from time and attendance systems, it is very difficult for employees to prove whether or not they are being forced to violate EU health and safety directives such as:

‘Member States shall take the measures necessary to ensure that every worker is entitled to a minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per 24-hour period’

and

‘Member States shall take the measures necessary to ensure that, per each seven-day period, every worker is entitled to a minimum uninterrupted rest period of 24 hours plus the 11 hours’ daily rest referred to in Article 3.’

(from the Directive 89/391/EEC – OSH “Framework Directive”, found here)

Many companies will be unhappy with this ruling.

Here are a few objections:

My company is tiny. Do I still need this? How can I afford this?

Yes, all companies who employ staff, no matter what the size, will need to pay heed to this announcement.

Most time and attendance companies are very familiar with the needs of small and micro-businesses, and can tailor their programmes and pricing accordingly. There are many different types of systems available, including mobile-based.

Our Win.TA.NET – Start Edition provides time and attendance management for any company with up to 50 employees.

The ECJ also issued this pointed reminder to employers in their 2008 Directive:

“The improvement of workers’ safety, hygiene and health at work is an objective which should not be subordinated to purely economic considerations.” (source)

My staff can use phone/email records to prove when they were working – shouldn’t this count instead?

A time and attendance system is faster, more accurate and more reliable than trying to cobble together a patchwork of different types of records to prove your case. Clock in at the start, clock out when you’re done. Quick and easy.

The balance of power is generally with the employer, and it is not fair to make the employee’s life more difficult than it needs to be when trying to prove a violation.

With our flagship Win.TA system, the clocking data is immediately available on the system for exporting or reporting.

All/some of my staff work remotely. How does this fit with time and attendance requirements?

Certain industries, such as sales, healthcare and transportation will be very concerned about this point. Worry not; as mentioned above, many time and attendance companies have made provisions for remote workers in their products.

It is 2019, after all, and we understand that more and more workers are able to work away from the confines of traditional brick and mortar. Time and attendance monitoring is no longer just about scanning a card through a static machine.

For example, our Self Service Module (SSM) allows employees to clock in and out using their browser, along with many other functions, and the mobile app even includes GPS in the data collected. This enables your employees to accurately clock-in wherever they are.

Even in areas of low internet connectivity, the app can still be used. It will queue the clockings and synchronise them when the employee reaches an area of better connectivity.

My staff have salaries and work at desks. Why do I need to monitor their working time so closely?

It is a common misconception that clocking in and out is only necessary for employees who are paid by the hour, or who work in blue-collar industries which reply on physical production.

As you can see from this article, the ECJ considers it necessary as a health and safety matter, to ensure that adequate rest is being taken. Obviously, that is still very important for office workers.

There are also many other ways in which all office environments can make use of data from time and attendance systems.

For example, tracking productivity. It is well-known by now that working longer hours does not correlate with getting more work done, as often employees just adjust their working speed.

Having actual numbers to crunch on working time vs amount of work completed enables managers to make informed decisions about their team’s workload and composition.

HR departments can also find having easy access to computerised attendance data very helpful.

Our system can make absence management easier, for example. WinTA.NET quickly identifies missing employees that are expected to be at work and then informs you via automatic email reporting. The system also automatically records employees’ individual Bradford Factor scores, to help you make decisions regarding sickness absences.

The UK is likely to be leaving the EU. Does this still apply?

Whether this will apply to UK workers remains to be seen.

Any UK company which has employees working in an EU country will need to comply with the working time measurement requirements for those workers.

Our time and attendance system can be purchased with multiple different language packs installed, enabling you to unambiguously communicate clocking requirements and processes to your employees in their native language.

Please get in touch with us for further details about this, or any point regarding time and attendance systems covered in this article, via +44 (0)1480 215530 or enquiries@tensor.co.uk


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