Why businesses should keep working time records of the hours worked by their employees

We outline three good reasons why businesses should keep records of hours worked per day and per week as well as annual leave and public holidays taken by their employees:

  1. This is one of the priority areas that the Workplace Relations Commission focus on in their inspections
  2. The European Court of Justice recently confirmed that employers keep “objective, reliable and accessible” systems to record working hours
  3. Case law

Under section 25 of the Organisation of Working Time Act, often known as the Working Time Act, employers must keep records of all their employees on the hours they have worked. These records must be kept for three years either at the place where the employee works or the principal place of employment and they need to include the following:

  • Daily start and finish times
  • Total number of hours worked per day
  • Total number of hours worked per week
  • A declaration that the employee has received their statutory rest entitlements – more details of what these entail can be found in our Working Time guideline
  • The employee details such as their name, the employer registration number and PPS number
  • The week or month reference that they worked in

Records of when an employee took their annual leave, public holiday and other types of leave should also be recorded.


The records can be kept either electronically using an attendance tracker or they can be paper based, a good example of a manual record keeping document is the OWT form which you can download here.


According to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) annual report for 2018, 13% of all complaints they received related to Working Time and a lack of working time records was one of the highest issues when it came to inspections carried about by the WRC.


A second reason for businesses to keep good working time records is a recent case by the European Court of Justice ruling where employers are required to keep “objective, reliable and accessible” systems that record the number of hours worked by each employee. This ruling applies to all member states and whilst Ireland already applies this ruling through the Organisation of Working Time Act, it could mean that businesses may come under further scrutiny in this area.


Finally, the third reason to keep working time records is to help with disputes either internally or in an external matter. In the case of Kepak Convenience Foods vs Grainne O’Hara, Ms O’Hara was employed as a Business Development Executive on a 40-hour working week. As part of her role, she visited clients and recorded her activities and engagement with them on the company system. Ms O’Hara argued that she was unable to complete these tasks within her contracted hours. Under the Working Time Act employees must not work in excess of 48 hours per week over a reference period of 4 months.


In the Labour Court hearing, Ms O’Hara argued that she regularly worked in excess of the maximum working week, often working 60 hours per week to keep up with the workload. She produced emails that were sent to clients and her employer between the hours of 5pm and midnight as well as early morning emails.  The email trail included early morning responses from her employer as well.


The business argued that they never insisted that Ms O’Hara work outside of her contracted hours, that she received comprehensive training on their system and that she could “comfortably” complete her work within 40-hours but she chose to “adopt a less efficient” method of completing her administrative tasks.


The Labour Court found in favour of the employee and awarded her €7,500 based on two factors:

  1. Her employer did not keep a record of her working hours.
  2. They were aware that she worked in excess of the maximum working work which is in breach of the Working Time Act and “took no steps to curtail the time she spent working.

With the increase focus on keeping working time records from a national, European and case law perspective, it is essential that businesses keep working time records.


For further information on the Working Time Act and keeping records, please contact Helen Quinn on helen.quinn@sfa.ie or 01 605 1668 or visit the SFA website.

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SFA E-zine - The Tuesday Edition
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Why businesses should keep working time records of the hours worked by their employees
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