My employer does not keep records of my working hours. Is this allowed?

Employers must always keep records for workers who are paid by the hour for payroll and tax purposes. The Working Time Regulations (WTR) 1998 also impose some specific record-keeping duties on your employer. Under the WTR, employers must keep adequate records to show that certain specific limits are being complied with. These are:

  • The weekly working time limit – although records such as payroll records can be used for this purpose;
  • The length of nightwork, including nightwork involving 'special hazards or heavy physical or mental strain' (where a strict eight-hour time limit is in place for each 24-hour period);
  • The requirement to provide health assessments for nightworkers and young workers, including, for each individual:
    • their name;
    • when they were assessed; and
    • the result of the assessment; and
    • The requirement for young workers’ working time not to exceed eight hours a day or 40 hours a week and the ban on night work for most young workers;
  • The names of all workers (kept up to date) who have agreed to work more than 48 hours a week (the '48 hour opt-out').

These records must be kept for two years.

The law on recording working time has recently got tighter, following a European Court of Justice ruling in May 2019 in a case brought by a Spanish trade union. The European court has ruled that all member states "must require employers to set up an objective, reliable and accessible system enabling the duration of time worked each day by each worker to be measured."

In other words, employers need to start recording the length of each working day. This goes beyond the current framework of the working time regulations, under which employers are not required to keep a running total of how much time individuals work on average each day or week. 

The European Court says that without a system to record daily working hours, employees cannot prove whether their working time rights are being complied with.   
This judgment could have far-reaching consequences. However, the benefits for UK workers could be short-lived, depending on the terms of the UK’s departure from the European Union. 

You are not obliged to tell your employer about hours worked under a second job unless your contract requires you to do this.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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