Time tracking is a crucial factor in any organization. It helps ensure employees don’t overwork while guaranteeing fair compensation for the work they do. In this article, we will elaborate on the legal aspect of time tracking in the EU, including Denmark, and how it affects both employers and employees.
Time tracking: An EU ruling
In a recent court case in Spain, a trade union claimed that a bank was obliged to establish a system to track and record the actual daily working hours of its staff. This is an example of how time tracking can become a legal matter, not just an administrative one.
The Spanish bank only had a system that could record full days of absence, such as vacation or illness. The Spanish court found that the bank did not have a system in place to effectively keep track of employees’ working hours.
However, the Court questioned whether the situation in Spain was in breach of EU law, as employers in Spain were not obliged to set up their own systems to record all daily hours worked by their staff. This led the Court of Justice of the European Union to decide whether it was in accordance with EU law that the Spanish law did not require employers to establish a system for recording all working hours for each employee in their organizations.
Decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union
The CJEU concluded that it is impossible to determine the actual hours worked and overtime hours in an objective and reliable manner in the absence of a system that can be used to measure and record the individual daily hours worked by each employee. With this in mind, the Court held that Member States are obliged to ensure that employers establish objective, reliable and accessible systems that can be used to measure the length of each employee’s daily working time.
According to the Court, such a system can be used to ensure that employees have an effective way to protect their rights, while also making it easier for employees to document their case in the event that their rights are violated. The Spanish government argued that introducing such a system to record and track daily working hours for employees would entail huge costs for employers, but the Court found that the need to protect the health and safety of employees outweighed such economic considerations.
Breach of EU law
The Court therefore ruled that it is a breach of EU law if Member States do not require employers to set up a system for tracking the hours worked by individual employees. However, the Court noted that it is up to each Member State to determine the precise rules applicable to these systems for recording working time, including whether special rules should apply to certain sectors or companies of a certain size.
Time tracking in Denmark
It is currently unclear exactly how Danish law will be changed in light of the ruling, but it is likely that an amendment to the Working Environment Act will be proposed in the new legislature.
Preparing for change
Companies are therefore advised to start preparing now for the fact that they will need to record the daily working hours of all employees. We will closely monitor the implementation of this decision and will report back when there are new developments.
Basic rules on working time in the EU
If you’re an employer, you need to know the basic rules on working time and guarantee the minimum standards set by EU directives. You must respect the rules on minimum daily and weekly rest, breaks, night work, annual leave and maximum weekly working hours. Your EU country may apply rules that are more favorable to workers.
Working hours and rest
As an employer, you must ensure that your staff do not work more than 48 hours per week on average (including overtime), over a reference period of up to 4 months. Your employees must have at least 11 consecutive hours of daily rest and at least 24 hours of uninterrupted weekly rest every 7 days, over a reference period of 2 weeks.
If your employees work more than 6 hours a day, you must ensure they get a break, the duration of which is specified in collective agreements or by national law.
In addition to daily and weekly rest periods, your staff are entitled to at least 4 weeks of paid vacation per year. You can’t replace these holidays with a payment unless the employment contract has been terminated before the employee has used all their annual leave days.
Time tracking is a crucial factor in any business operation. With EU legislation now requiring employers to establish objective, reliable and accessible systems to measure each employee’s daily working hours, it’s important that businesses start preparing for these changes. While this can cause a significant financial and administrative burden for companies, it’s important to remember that the purpose of these changes is to protect employee rights and ensure fair working conditions.