Time clocks to make a comeback

Working hours to be timed under new laws

By Kate Southam

Many companies do not know that under the Federal Government’s new "WorkChoices" regulations employers were expected to keep records of the hours their employees worked.

Employment lawyers Hunt & Hunt confirmed this week that under the WorkChoices regulations that came into effect on March 27 every company in Australia was expected to track the hours of all employees – from the most junior to the managing director or chief executive officer.

Peta Tumpey, an employment law specialist and a partner in law firm Hunt & Hunt, said the regulation had come as a shock to many employers.

"A significant number of companies have not yet realised that as part of the new WorkChoices regulations, they will have to keep records of all staff members’ time, even the CEO," Ms Tumpey said.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s chief executive Peter Hendy said the issue of time sheets had been of concern for business since the release of the legislation.

Mr Hendy told reporters last week that time sheets for all employees would create more red tape for employers. He said the Federal Government had pledged to review the regulations at least as they applied to executives.

Ms Tumpey agreed that time keeping would create an additional burden for companies.

"Maybe we’ll see the widespread revival of the ‘Bundy Clock’. Only this time, everyone will be clocking on, across all levels of the workforce and among all industries and professions," she said.

"It doesn’t matter whether you have only one employee, 1,500, or more – every staff member’s working hours of every day must be recorded, and those records kept for seven years. It will certainly be an onerous burden [on employers]," Ms Tumpey said.

 Hunt & Hunt advise that companies who did not comply risked fines of up to $2,750.

According to Ms Tumpey, a ‘penalty infringement notice’ scheme had been introduced along with the WorkplaceChoices regulations to punish employers not complying with the time keeping rules. It works in a similar way to a parking fine in that workplace inspectors have the power to issue penalties of up to $275 at a time.

"There are a large number of free seminars being held by law firms and other specialists in the [employment law] area, as well as some useful information on the Internet. But if in doubt, consult with a relevant professional," Ms Tumpey advised.


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