The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on May 14 that the European Union (EU) member states must enact laws requiring employers to record employees’ daily work hours.
According to the decision, once regulations are in place, employers will have to set up systems to record the daily work time. The court left open whether such recording must be done electronically, by app, on paper or by time clock.
The court ruling involved a labor union for workers at a Spanish subsidiary of Germany’s Deutsche Bank, which argued that the bank had to track daily work hours, according to The Associated Press.
German employment law already requires employers to record the number of hours employees work beyond eight in a day, which are considered overtime hours, but companies often fail to comply with this requirement. At present in Germany, only a few types of employees, such as professional drivers and construction workers, must record their daily work time.
The ECJ asserts that, without a system for recording work times, it’s difficult for employees to enforce their rights, or to prove they’ve worked overtime, if there’s no record of the hours they’ve worked. The court considers it necessary to record all work time to protect employees’ health and safety.
In addition, it will be easier for enforcement authorities to prove violations of the German Work Hours Act.
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Employers will probably still be able to delegate the recording of work time to employees, but they will have to regularly check whether employees record their daily work time.
It remains to be seen how Germany will implement the court’s guidelines. Nevertheless, companies should prepare for the new requirements.
Spain now has new regulations that require all companies to record their employees’ daily work time. Employers in Spain can comply by using a time clock, app or paper, and the data must be kept for four years.
Saskia Hildebrandt is an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in Berlin.