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Can time spent by a trade union representative at meetings with his employer at his workplace amount to ‘working time’ for the purposes of the Working Time Regulations 1998?
Yes, holds the EAT.
The claimants, respectively a trade union health and safety representative and a shop steward claimed that they were entitled to a rest period of 11 hours between the end of trade union meetings they had attended and the beginning of their contractual duties, on the basis that attendance at the meetings was working time. The claimants were given time off their contractual duties that corresponded to the amount of time that they spent at the meetings which were arranged by the employer.
The ET accepted that the claimants were working whilst at the meetings, so satisfying the first part of the definition of working time, but were neither at the Respondent’s disposal nor carrying out their activities or duties. Accordingly, time spent at the meetings was not working time.
The EAT, allowing the appeal, disagreed. Being at the disposal of the employer did not mean being under its direction and control when it meant something broader. It was sufficient that the claimants were required to come into the workplace to attend these meetings when the employer had said. Further, activities or duties did not have to mean the employee’s contractual duties. The EAT accepted that it was sufficient that the activities were of benefit to the employer and held that the claimants’ attendance at the meetings met this test. The claimants’ activities were beneficial to the employer in terms of meeting its statutory duties and maintaining good industrial relations.
Please find abover the link to the judgment.
Betsan Criddle acted for the successful Appellants, instructed by Walkers Union Solicitors (part of Slater & Gordon).
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