Counting the hours

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In the wake of the Working Time Directive a decade ago, and the more recent Road Transport Directive, the value of an integrated Attendance, Absence and Driver Scheduling system is immense, writes Mike Hawkesford, managing director, Crown Computing.

Its ten years this year since the Working Time Directive was introduced in the UK across most industry sectors, stipulating amongst other things an average working week of no longer than 48 hours for employees. However, at that time, the road transport sector was exempt from those regulations that is until March 2005 when the Road Transport Directive (RTD) was introduced; having far reaching effects on an industry where drivers averaged almost 60 hours per week. Things had to change, and transport managers have had to begin to plan carefully to achieve compliance under the new regulations.

Penalties

The new RTD legislation required detailed recording of driver hours with an onus on all employers to prove that their drivers were operating within the rules of the Directive. All employers are now required to maintain records to demonstrate compliance. If an employer cannot demonstrate compliance, member countries are required to introduce penalties. At worst, anyone found to be flouting the regulations and whose drivers are subsequently involved in any fatal accidents, face the prospect of a corporate manslaughter charge if they can not prove that they have operated legally.

The value of a Time Recording and Driver Scheduling system in this scenario is therefore immense. There was already a regulatory obligation for employers to maintain records of drivers hours and rest breaks, but it has become necessary for companies to analyse and update records on how employees were complying with the 48-hour working week; tracking night hours, break times and periods of availability. And all of it made easier with Time & Attendance software that is designed to provide compliance with the Directive.

T&A software enables employees to record their arrival and departure to and from the workplace, providing managers with detailed information about attendance, lateness and absenteeism. It can automatically monitor each employees absence profile, providing early warning if lateness and absence rules are violated. Each individuals arrival and departure time is recorded automatically using input devices such as industry Timeclocks, telephony or other data capture tools suitable to the environment and working practices.

Increased accuracy

State-of-the-art T&A systems use company-defined rules and codes to calculate the time each individual has worked at standard and premium rates of pay. This and any other premiums can then be passed automatically to the payroll system for payment. This increases the accuracy of the payment process and enables organisations to significantly reduce the administrative effort involved in payroll preparation. All of the Working Time and Road Transport Agreements can normally be defined as being statutory, collective and employee so a wide variety of Agreements can be managed simultaneously with each individual being linked to a specific agreement.

But to ensure that drivers operate within the terms of the Road Transport Directive, better scheduling tools are needed to enable organisations to use their driver resources more efficiently. A driver scheduling system enable planners to verify proposed driver rosters against the rules of the RTD, providing advanced warning of any driving shifts that will violate the rules of the Directive. Ideally, the driver scheduling tools will integrate fully with the equivalent attendance and absence system, which will provide up-to-date information on any planned (or unplanned) absences. And of course, the Attendance system will provide the full database of historical information needed to compute accurately, each employees Working Time and RTD compliance. 

Easy access

Employees can also benefit because their individual records, showing their attendance and absence record, driving hours averages and their planned work rosters are easily accessible using the companys intranet or extranet. This also allows them to communicate with their work planners, providing information on their availability and planned periods of absence.   

Only by using an integrated Attendance, Absence and Driver Scheduling system, can employers be certain that theyre getting the best out their drivers without breaking the law. Driver schedules can be planned taking all known factors into account, ensuring that work is allocated fairly and that all unforeseen events are adequately covered. And of course, accurate record-keeping is fully automated, enabling virtually any information on Attendance, Absence and Working Time to be produced quickly and easily. 

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