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European Court of Justice rules on how working hours are recorded


A new ruling by the European Court of Justice says that all employees in EU member countries must record detailed hours of work for every employee as set out in the EU Working Time Directive (WTD).


This follows a complaint by a Spanish trade union against Deutsche Bank, which was not doing this for its Spanish employees.


In Britain, the equivalent legislation is the Working Times Regulations (WTR). Under WTR employers must show ‘adequate’ records that the 48 hours have not been exceeded, but the EU WTD requires more detailed records. The ruling implies that the WTR specification of “adequate records” does not comply with the EU Working Time Directive. UK employers could be in breach of European law if their records are not detailed enough.


The EU Working Time Directive (WTD) limits the working week to a maximum of 48 hours and gives workers the right to take daily and weekly breaks. British workers can opt out of this 48-hour maximum as long as this is done in writing.


When Britain leaves the EU, most of the EU health and safety regulations will be transferred to British law, but the WTD may not be applicable after Brexit.


For hazardous work conditions like construction sites and manufacturing factories, working long hours can result in workers being overtired, and this can cause accidents. Workers use protective workwear, but they still need to be fully alert when operating machinery or driving vehicles. PPE (personal protective equipment) cannot protect workers from all injuries caused by fatigue.


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