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Edwards and Morgan v Encirc Ltd UKEAT/0367/14; (2015) EMPLR 040
23 February 2015
Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT)
Her Honour Judge Eady QC
Attending trade union meetings and health and safety meetings counts as ‘working time’ under the Working Time Regulations. Therefore employers must ensure that such meetings do not prevent employees from having their 11-hour daily break.
The Working Time Regulations 1998 define ‘working time’ as including time when the employee is working, at his employer’s disposal and carrying out his ‘activities or duties’.
A trade union representative and a health and safety representative complained that they had not been permitted their 11-hours daily rest because they had attended trade union and health and safety meetings between 12-hour shifts. The question was whether time spent at such meetings was ‘working time’ - ie whether they were ‘working’, ‘at their employer’s disposal’ and ‘carrying out their activities or duties’. The EAT concluded that all three elements of this definition were satisfied: attending a meeting was ‘working’ since it benefitted the employer in terms of meeting its obligations and maintaining good industrial relations; although they could not be directed by their employer while at the meetings, they were in the EAT’s view ‘at their employer’s disposal’ because the employer had laid down the rules for the meeting and stated how it was to be conducted; and they had to carry out duties and activities at those meetings - it did not matter that those duties were outside the duties required under their contracts.