The first criminal prosecution under the 1998 Working Time Regulations Act has finally taken place
Breckland Council in Norfolk prosecuted Martin's Newsagents for failing to limit an employee's hours to an average of 48 per week. Employee Maureen Lumbard, who had worked up to 97 hours a week, was awarded £1,200 compensation. The company was also fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,150 costs. However, it is unlikely that there will be a deluge of cases in the wake of this prosecution. Allen & Overy employment partner Julie Quinn said: "I certainly don't see it as the opening of the floodgates." This is partly because the Health and Safety Executive and local authorities - the bodies that posses the power to prosecute - lack the funding to bring numerous cases. It is also because the regulations act as a deterrent. Ronnie Fox, name partner at Fox Williams, said: "The local authorities are more interested in getting people to comply." However, Fox added that the case does send a message to companies to comply with the act.