Trade Union and H&S meetings ‘can count as working time’
The Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled that trade union and health and safety meetings can count as working time for the purposes of employment law.
The case involved two employees who worked 12-hour shifts for a company called Encirc Ltd. One also served as a health and safety officer and the other was a trade union official.
The Working Time Regulations 1998 require that employees should be given 11 hours rest between shifts. However, on at least one occasion, both men attended meetings that finished so late that they were not be able to take 11 hours rest between the end of the meetings and the start of their shift.
They argued that the meetings should be considered as working time and they should be allowed to start their shifts later without any loss of pay or benefit.
The Employment Tribunal found against them but that decision has been overturned by Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).
It held that the two employees did not have to be under the employer’s specific control while carrying out their duties and activities for the Working Time Regulations to apply. Nor was there any specific requirement that the duties being undertaken by the employees were the ones for which they were employed according to their contracts.
It was sufficient that they were taking part in activities that were, in general terms, for the benefit of the employer and were being carried out with the employer’s knowledge and approval.
The claims were sent back to the Employment Tribunal to be reconsidered in the light of this broader approach to the definition of working time.
Please contact Jackie Cuneen if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.