In 2019, EU employers were required to set up "an objective, reliable and accessible system" for measuring employee working time. In this article, we will discuss how this has impacted the workplace and how employers can ensure they comply with these regulations.
EU Working Time Directive (2003)
The EU Working Time Directive regulates working hours in EU member states to ensure the health and safety of employees. If you are an employer in an EU member state, you must guarantee the minimum working time standards set by EU employment law.
– Employees cannot work more than 48 hours per week on average over a 4-month reference period (overtime included).
Daily and weekly rest
– Employees must have at least 11 consecutive hours of daily rest and at least 24 hours of uninterrupted weekly rest.
– Employees must have a break after 6 hours of work.
– Employees are entitled to at least 4 weeks of paid vacation per year.
– Member States may allow individual employees to opt out of the 48-hour weekly limit (under strict conditions).
– Night workers may not work more than an average of 8 hours per 24-hour period. If they perform dangerous or strenuous work, they are not allowed to work more than 8 hours in a 24-hour period.
The problem with the EU Working Time Directive (2003)
European working time legislation was enacted to protect employees from overtime. The problem with it was that it gave too much leeway for employers to abuse it. The directive did not require companies to track employee working hours, making it difficult to assess whether employers were truly compliant.
EU timing requirements (2019)
In May 2019, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that all employers must track their employees’ working hours. This decision was the result of a lawsuit against the Spanish branch of Deutsche Bank by the Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), the Spanish trade union.
The ECJ ruled that everyone had to keep track of all working hours (regular hours and overtime). Consequently, Member States must require employers to establish ‘an objective, reliable and accessible system’ for measuring daily working time. The Court has left it up to individual member states to figure out how to incorporate the time recording requirement into their labor laws.
Implementing EU time tracking requirements in the Member States
Many EU Member States already had an explicit time recording requirement in their labor laws even before the ECJ ruling, including: Austria, Croatia, Poland, Estonia, Finland, Luxembourg, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia and Portugal.
Those member states whose labor laws did not specify any requirements for employee time recording before the ruling have slowly introduced changes to the law to change that. In June 2021, Greece passed a new employment law that requires the implementation of an electronic system for employee time tracking via digital work cards. The system must be connected to the country’s ERGANI platform for employers.
What the EU Time Recording Act means for employers
As mentioned in the ECJ press release, EU employers must set up "an objective, reliable and accessible system" for tracking employees’ time during the working day.
How to select a time tracker
A time tracking system is not only beneficial for keeping up to date with working time laws in European countries. There are many other benefits of time tracking for both employees and employers.
If you’re not sure where to start, MyDesk Worktime is a great free tool to help you keep track of the European time tracking requirement. It allows you to keep track of all work-related time, including breaks, overtime and days off.
Disclaimer of liability
Using time tracking software does not automatically make you compliant with EU time recording requirements. MyDesk Worktime allows you to create "an objective, reliable and accessible system" for measuring employee working time, as per EU requirements.