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No detriment when employee required to sign opt-out to work overtime

Posted on 16th January 2012
HR practice

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has confirmed that a requirement for an employee to sign an opt-out agreement in order to work overtime did not amount to a detriment.

On this page

Arriva London Self Ltd v Nicolaou UK EAT/0293/11 21 December 2011

Background

As a matter of policy, the employer required employees who wanted to work overtime to sign a Working Time Regulations opt-out agreement.  The claimant employee did not want to sign an opt-out agreement and was therefore prevented from working overtime.  The employee argued that even with his overtime working he was not likely to exceed the 48 hours average weekly limit.

The decision

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has confirmed that a requirement for an employee to sign an opt-out agreement in order to work overtime did not amount to a detriment because the requirement was reasonable and necessary to ensure the employer complied with its duty under regulation 4(2) of the Working Time Regulations 1998. This regulation provides that an employer shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that the limits on working time are complied with. A breach of the various obligations imposed under the Working Time Regulations imposes criminal sanctions on the employer under regulation 29.

Comment

The EAT's decision should be welcomed by employers who have employees who regularly work overtime. The decision is a common sense and practical one. 

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