The Working Time Act of 1997 was enacted in order to ensure employees are fairly compensated and treated by their employers. This includes a variety of regulations related to the work week, hours worked, and employee entitlements.
Compliance with this act is mandatory for all businesses in Ireland and they’re responsible for keeping records and following all regulations. Time and attendance systems can help with this process.
You can ensure compliance by allowing a complete time tracking system to log and record working time, time off, holiday pay, and other requirements related to the Working Time Act.
If you want to simplify the way you handle employee scheduling and time tracking, learn more about the use of time and attendance systems. Discover how these systems can prevent penalties and fines during NERA inspections and guarantee compliance with the Working Time Act.
Understanding the Working Time Act
Every business owner, human resources manager, and other high-level executives should be aware of the specifics of the Working Time Act. The main areas addressed by the act include the following categories:
- Maximum weekly working time
- Minimum weekly working time
- Rest and rest breaks
- Night workers
- Holiday pay and time off
- Public holidays
- Sunday premium
The Working Time Act is divided into several parts. Though, the primary areas of concern fall into two main parts. The first part deals with the minimum rest periods and other matters related to working time. The second part deals with holidays and entitlements.
Maximum Weekly Working Time
Maximum weekly working time is set at an average of 48 hours. Though, this can be balanced out over a 4-month period. For seasonal employment, the average can be balanced over a 6-month period. A 12-month period requires approval from the Labour Court.
Minimum Weekly Working Time
Along with maximum hours, there is a minimum weekly working time. An employee is guaranteed to be compensated for 25% of the time that he or she is required to be available. So, if an employee is expected to be available for 40 hours, they are guaranteed at least 10 hours of pay.
Rest and Rest Breaks
There are also regulations concerning rest periods and break times. This is divided into daily rest periods, rest intervals, and weekly rest periods. This is for the safety and well-being of the employee.
By setting these rest periods, employees are entitled to take consistent breaks to prevent exhaustion and fatigue. This helps to reduce the number of workplace accidents, stress, and other factors that can lead to increased insurance costs and health care.
Employees are allowed at least 11 hours of daily rest per 24-hour period. They must also receive one 24-hour period of rest per week, which needs to follow an 11-hour rest period.
During the work day, your staff must get a 15-minute rest break if they work 4 ½ hours. If working 6 hours, they must get 30-minutes of rest.
As with other regulations, approval of the Labour Court and a collective agreement is required for variations. This includes varying the intervals of the rest breaks and making adjustments to the requirements.
Night workers have a special regulation. Night time is considered the period between 12AM and 7AM. If at least 3-hours of the scheduled shift occurs during night time and 50% of their scheduled time each year, then the worker is a night worker.
Night workers cannot work more than 48 hours per week, averaged over a 2-month period – instead of the standard 4-month period. If the job involves special hazards, such as mental or physical strain, they cannot work more than 8 hours in a 24-hour period.
This may not apply to certain sectors and industries. For example, if you do not have employees that regularly work during the hours of 12AM to 7AM, then you should not have to worry about this regulation.
Holiday Pay and Time Off
The Working Time Act stipulates that holiday pay is earned against time worked. All of your staff members, even temporary or casual workers, earn holiday pay. This is earned starting at the beginning of their work contract. There are three separate methods for calculating holiday entitlements. This includes the following:
- 4 working weeks in which the employee worked 1,365 hours or more
- 1/3 of a working week per calendar month that the employee worked 117 hours
- 8% of the hours an employee works in a year
There are also 9 public holidays. The nine public holidays that must be addressed includes:
- Christmas Day
- Stephen’s Day
- Patrick’s Day
- Easter Monday
- The first Monday in May, June, and August
- The last Monday in October
- The first of January
During each of these public holidays, the employee must receive one of the following entitlements:
- Get a paid day off on the holiday
- Get a paid day off during the month
- Get an extra day of annual leave
- Get an extra day’s pay
This will depend on what day the holiday lands on. For example, if the holiday lands on a day that the employee would normally be working, they are entitled to a paid day off. If the holiday falls on a day during which the employee is not scheduled, they are entitled to 1/5 of his or her normal weekly wage for the day.
If the employee is asked to come in on the holiday but is not normally scheduled for that day, they are entitled to either a paid day off during the month, an extra day of annual leave or an extra day’s pay.
Calculating holiday pay and time off is a very specific process. Outdated payroll software may not be able to provide an accurate assessment of these entitlements. It is also not advisable to attempt these calculations manually.
For this reason, modern attendance software is the perfect solution. You can allow the software to provide the correct entitlements to every staff member.
There is a premium that must be paid to employees who work on Sundays. This could include adding payment, time off, a portion of shift premium, or an unsocial hour’s premium. The specifics must be agreed upon in the closest applicable collective agreement.
Additional Regulations and Exceptions
There are additional regulations and some exceptions to these requirements. This includes laws concerning the working week. For example, the Young Person Employment Act 1996 puts forth additional regulations for the working hours of those under the age of 18.
For those under 18, the maximum weekly hours will vary. Those that are 16 or 17 are referred to as young persons, while those under 16 are referred to as children. A young person can work a maximum of 40 hours, with 8 hour days. They get a half-hour rest break after 4 ½ hours of work and 12 consecutive hours off for each day.
For children 14 and under, they can only work 35-hours total during the holidays and cannot work during the school term. Though, they can have up to 40 hours of work experience. For children who are 15 years of age, the maximum weekly hours are still 40. But, they are permitted to work 8-hours per week during the school term.
The working time for trainee doctors, employees working at sea, and employees working in road transport also have separate regulations concerning the work week.
Other variations can be found in civil protection services, Defence Forces, the Gardaí, and employees that control their own hours of work. Also, family employees on farms or in private homes are not restricted by the working week set by the Working Time Act.
Penalties for Violating the Working Time Act
Businesses that do not comply with the act are subject to fines and penalties. An employer could face up to €1904.61 in fines. There is also an extra €634.87 applied per day that the offence continues.
These fines can be applied up to 2 years after the breach of the Act or any other collective agreement. The total amount of the penalty may be determined by the Labour Court and the Rights Commissioner.
When an employee feels that they are not being properly treated in relation to their hours of work, they can file a complaint with the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
If they do not get their daily rest period, weekly rest, or work breaks, the employer is violating the Working Time Act. This also applies when an employee works more than the maximum hours or do not receive proper entitlements.
It is your responsibility as an employer to make sure that your staff is treated fairly according to the act and other regulations regarding worker’s compensation. Time and attendance software automates this process so that you do not have to worry about penalties for violations.
Keep in mind that this is a summary of the act. If you want to take a detailed look at the entire Working Time Act 1997, you can explore every regulation. You can also learn more about the penalties and provisions related to young persons and worker safety.
Announced and Unannounced NERA Inspections
In order to ensure compliance with employment rights legislation, such as the Working Time Act, the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) was established in 2007.
The NERA’s Inspection Services regularly conduct inspections of businesses. The inspectors working for the NERA are able to enter any premises during reasonable business hours. They are able to demand, inspect, and take copies of records. The NERA inspectors can also interview any of your employees.
If you are going to have an announced inspection, you will be contacted by the inspected either via telephone or letter. They will make arrangements for this visit so that you can begin preparing the necessary records and documents.
For an unannounced inspection, the inspector will simply arrive at your place of business and ask for the necessary records.
With time tracking software, this process is a breeze. You can enter the information that you need and instantly generate your reports.
The inspections will typically start with the inspector identifying themselves. They should show proper identification, including a photo ID. Afterwards, they will explain the purpose of their visit. They may then perform any of the following:
- Ask for the names of the people responsible for keeping and updating your records.
- Examine your records to ensure you are complying with all employee rights legislation.
- During the examination, they will determine the rates of pay for each employee.
- The inspector will inform the employer, if any breaches are uncovered during the inspection.
- They may also interview your employees to verify any of the information in your records.
You must meet the needs of the inspector. If you are unable to supply the necessary documents, you could face additional examination and inspection.
By using an advanced attendance system, you can automate these steps. Your inspection will go smoothly and you can rest easy knowing that your employees are receiving fair wages and entitlements.
Time and Attendance Systems Ensure Compliance
How can time and attendance systems help you remain in compliance with the Working Time Act? You are required to comply with a number of regulations and rules regarding the hours worked by your employees. This includes pay rates, break times, maximum hours per week, sick leave, personal leave, holiday pay, and other regulations.
In order to accurately comply with each of these standards, you need to have a system in place to log and store all of your data. Manually calculating employee benefits and allowances can easily result in errors. It also requires a considerable amount of time to compile the necessary documents.
Time and attendance systems solve all of this by automatically tracking and recording the time worked by your employees. Here are some of the ways that time and attendance software can help with compliance:
- Easily prepare documents for NERA inspections
- Follow all rules for pay and hours for staff under the age of 18
- Accurately calculate employee benefits and entitlements
- Automatically ensure working week compliance
- Prevent penalties and violations
- Stay up to date with the latest regulations
These are just a few of the benefits of using attendance software. Evaluate each of these advantages and find out how to ensure compliance with the Working Time Act and other regulations.
Easily Prepare Documents for NERA Inspections
Time and attendance systems can help you comply with the Working Time Act of 1997. Accurately track and log every minute worked by every member of your staff. Generate custom reports detailing any information required for a NERA inspection. This includes the following criteria:
- Lists of employees
- Date of termination
- Hours worked
- Break times
- Annual leave
- Public holidays
- Evidence of payment of wages
- Statement of deductions
- Pension deductions
- And any other details related to wages, pay, and hours worked
These details can automatically be tracked, monitored, and calculated using the advanced time software. You can receive alerts when making scheduling changes that would interfere with the laws and regulations for working hours.
When an unannounced or announced NERA inspection occurs, you may be asked to prepare specific documents. You can easily gather these records with your time tracking software. This simplifies the way you handle compliance.
Follow All Rules for Pay and Hours for Young Persons
As mentioned, there are specific regulations concerning young person and children. If your business has any employees under the age of 18, you must follow these separate laws. For example, the maximum hours and rest periods for those under the age of 18 are different than the regulations for adults.
The Protection of Young Person Employment Act 1996 includes additional regulations to pay attention to. The time that is factored into the maximum hours worked by a young person also includes work training and in-plant experience.
Accurately Calculate Employee Benefits and Entitlements
Determining average hours worked over several months, along with holiday pay and other statutory entitlements, is a complicated process. If you attempt to calculate these values by hand, you are likely to end up with an occasional mistake. These are not harmless mistakes. Your business can be penalised for inaccuracies.
Attendance software will be able to accurately calculate these entitlements. This includes entitlements for public holidays, annual holiday pay, and time off.
Automatically Ensure Working Week Compliance
In certain sectors, it can be difficult to keep track of the hours worked for each employee. This is especially true when your staff regularly trades shifts and works irregular hours.
If you want to make sure that you meet the requirements of the working week, you need a modern time tracking system. With rostering software, you will be able to make quick shift changes without exceeding the maximum hours for any of your employees.
Prevent Penalties and Violations
You can prevent penalties and violations with the help of attendance software. For example, when you use rostering software, the system will let you know when a schedule conflicts with employment legislation.
You can guarantee that your employees do not work too many hours. This can be a big time-saver for businesses with overlapping shifts and flexible scheduling. By allowing a computer program to ensure compliance, you will be able to avoid penalties and violations.
Stay Up to Date with the Latest Regulations
Regular updates ensure that you are always complying with the latest regulations. As new laws are passed, or when existing regulations are updated, you need to be aware of these changes. Keeping your attendance software up to date will keep you up to date.
Attendance Software Almost Can Guarantee Compliance
The bottom line is that time tracking software can help guarantee your compliance with all employment legislation. Whether you have a few employees or thousands, you must accurately track the hours worked by each employee.
You then need to make sure that they are not working too many hours. They need regular rest periods, holiday pay or time off, and other entitlements. Trying to calculate these figures for each employee using a manual method is likely to result in errors. Avoid this problem by installing an advance attendance tracking solution.
The Working Time Act is just one act that has been established to improve worker safety and well-being. Over the years, numerous regulations have been put in place. This includes the Worker Protection Act 1991, the Social Welfare Act 1993, and numerous other safety, health, and welfare acts.
In order to deal with a large number of regulations, it is important that you have a good system in place. How do you make sure that you comply with these regulations? How do you determine employee entitlements and hours worked? The system that you use could be a liability if it cannot accurately track these details.
This is never an issue with advanced attendance systems. With a complete attendance solution, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with full compliance.
What is a Time Tracking System?
If you are not familiar with these systems, a time tracking system offers a complete solution for logging employee hours. Using a clocking terminal of your choice, you can track every minute worked by your staff. This information is then sent to a central database.
Depending on the solutions you require, you can add additional modules to the attendance system. This can include rostering software, human resources solutions, and other systems designed to simplify the way you handle time tracking, payroll, and recordkeeping.
There is a lot of work that goes into running a business. While you have plenty to do, you still need to meet your legal obligations. You must follow all laws and regulations concerning the treatment of your employees. This includes the Working Time Act.
If you want to simplify this process and easily create and keep records, then you should think about implementing a time and attendance system.
Advance Systems is a leading distributor of time and attendance solutions for businesses. With offices in Ireland and the US, they understand the importance of compliance and proper employee entitlements.