The decision made under the European Union’s Working Time Directive (WTD) has, in the main, received a frosty reception and a widespread backlash from those organisations it affects.Companies that rely heavily on remote workers – such as carers, salespeople and tradespeople – are now being forced to implement significant operational changes in order to avoid being sued by employees or face the prospect of HMRC fines should they be found not to be paying people correctly. The government has also added to the pressure of ensuring companies get it right by stating it may “name and shame” organisations who underpay staff. This would leave any company that tries to avoid the costly changes or accidentally miscalculates pay with its reputation in tatters. Therefore, how can companies avoid the nightmare of miscalculating pay and what should they do in order to comply with the ruling? (1) Track and record time efficiently The main bugbear lies in the calculation of working hours and how those hours are tracked. The efficiency and accuracy of the recording and reporting of this data is vital. Technology can help to take the strain, by managing the complexities organisations are faced with, as well as saving a considerable amount of money in the long run. This can be achieved by creating processes which enable all remote workers to share data and ensures these processes are water tight should they be put under the spotlight by the organisation or called into question by a legal firm or HMRC. (2) Use different technologies to aid accuracy We’re working closely with a number of companies to integrate different technologies (such as Google maps) within software to help accurately calculate the number of hours worked. If an employee takes a different and longer route to avoid heavy traffic, the system can track this automatically. The ECJ has stipulated that calculations have to be made from the time employees leave the house to the time they reach their intended destination, so this avoids any discrepancies. (3) Review working weeks and hours The majority of UK-based organisations do not factor in travel outside of normal working hours as working time, therefore there are a number of things that they need to do. Some are asking employees to opt out of the 48 hour working week, while others are adjusting the overall working hours of remote workers or intervening on the planning of assignments to ensure initial or final appointments start or end near to a worker’s home. (4) Look at break times Companies should also have to look at how many breaks remote employees might be entitled to as this might also increase due the ruling. (5) Talk to your employees As with any changes that directly effect employees, it’s important to communicate where, when, how and why they are taking place. This helps to avoid confusion and helps to increase support for the new system. Vicky Smith is head of Access Payroll Services.
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