• Workforce management
  • HR guide

Working time directive rules every HR manager should know

Jazmin Lopez

There are 25.1 million small and medium-sized businesses running in the European Union alone. 

If you run one of these many businesses, you must know that having a strong HR department is essential to the success of your company. However, wrapping your head around the various working time directive regulations or conveying them to your HR manager is no easy task. 

That's why online HR software is an absolute must-have for businesses such as yours. This kind of software allows you to streamline your HR management and make the whole administrative process much simpler for everyone involved. 

With that in mind, let's have a look at a few time directive rules that your small business should know.

Working time directive rules your business needs to follow

The Working Time Directive or the WTD is European legislation that guarantees certain rights to workers of its member states. It lays out rules that relate to work hours, leave, resting breaks and other such criteria as a way to protect the health, safety, and well-being of European workers within the Union.

So what does the current WTD have to say about working time regulations?

Let's have a look.

Exploring current working time regulations

The present working time regulations allow employees to work for a maximum of 48 hours a week. Each of these workers is also allowed to take 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave. Plus, they must receive at least a day off in every single working week or 24 hours of weekly rest.

They are also directed to have one hours' rest in between every 24-hour period and are entitled to a 20-minute break for every working day that's longer than a period of six hours. 

Additionally, there must also be a daily rest of 11 hours between the beginning and end of every consecutive working day. As far as night shifts go, they cannot extend 8 hours for any 24 hour period. 

For workers between the ages of 16-18, the work time is restricted to not more than 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.

The exceptions to the rules

The above rules allow for certain exceptions under special circumstances. Article 16 of the Working Time Directive specifies these exceptions:

  • A worker may choose to "opt-out" from the maximum working hours per week. Member states can derogate from certain applicable rules for special categories of workers or sectors 

If a worker chooses to opt-out, such opting out must be done out of their own volition.

Additionally, they can choose to opt back into the rules whenever they see fit. While an employer is allowed to request workers to apply for such an arrangement, such an agreement cannot be forced upon a worker or used against them for retention purposes.

Moreover, some jobs have other reference periods.

An update to the rule: Is time tracking mandatory?

After a decision on the recent case of CCOO vs Deutsche Bank SAE within the European Court of Justice, all employers are required to keep track of their employees' daily working time. This includes weekly working time, rest periods, night shifts, the exceptions to the rules and other data relevant to the Working Time Directives.

To calculate average hours, a 17 week work period has been specified.

The purpose behind the working time directive rules

As an employer, you might wonder about the importance of such regulations and the relevance they hold to your business. The purpose behind the WTD can be summed up under two heads.

1. Preventing exploitation

To prevent the exploitation of vulnerable employees, it is important to have a regulatory body to protect workers from inhumane working conditions. The WTD serves as a necessary legislation to ensure a minimum standard of safety and health for all employees.

2. Employee burnout

Working overtime can lead to employee burnout. Studies have shown that more than 60% of employees experience symptoms of burnout at some point or the other.

Additionally, more than 18% of European workers testify to being stressed out every single day due to work-related anxiety.

This drastically reduces the overall quality of the employee's performance.

How to comply with working time directive rules using HR software

It's natural to feel overwhelmed at the sight of all these rules. However, with the help of HR software, you can ensure that your business is fully compliant with every specified Working Time Directive rule. Here's how it helps.

1. Time tracking

A time and attendance software can help your employees utilize their time in doing meaningful work, instead of manually recording work hours. HR software allows you to create digital timesheets that your HR department export to other relevant departments in your business. This also ensures your employees don't exceed 48 hours of work a week.

2. Monitor leave

Absence management software allows you to define your standards for all kinds of leave allowances including sick leave, remote working and other holidays. This one-time policy can then be integrated within your system allowing you to seamlessly check holiday accruals in relation to various employees. 

3. Overtime 

Keep a record of every employee working overtime and calculate accurate payrolls accordingly. This data allows you to monitor patterns of excessive overtime that could later affect an employee's productivity and work-life balance.

4. Digital records

The world has gone digital. Get rid of your paper records and choose a more environmentally friendly, efficient, digital people system and document management system.

Finding the right HR software for your business

HR software that can help you comply with the Working Time Directive is hard to come by. There's nothing worse than investing in something that turns out to be less than exceptional. 

That's why we encourage you to sign up for a 14 day FREE trial of our HR software. You can also schedule an online demo, if you'd like to take a look first. Experience the change now!

Start free trial

By clicking on "Subscribe to newsletter" I confirm that I have read and accepted the privacy policy.

Welcome to our mailing list! We hope you enjoy our content!

More from kiwiHR blog

  • HR guide
  • Company culture

How organisational development can improve your company's productivity

Organisational development is a new concept that aims to improve business productivity. Find out what the benefits of OD are in this article.

Isadora De Angeli
  • Case study

How We Edit Podcasts manages remote teams

Our client We Edit Podcasts is a remote-first podcast service provider based in Canada founded in 2015 by Carli van Heerden. We asked COO Jacques van Heerden how they mastered working and managing remotely.

Aude Creveau

Powerful features to help you streamline HR tasks

HR admin activities can be really time consuming, up to a staggering 700 hours annually. Having an automated system saves you time and gives you a competitive advantage. Start now and make a difference!

Smart and easy employee records management

All personnel data in one place

Transparent time off management with calendar

Manage time off on the fly

Modern time tracking with overtime calculator

Track hours in just seconds

Company documents and resources 24/7

Consolidate important information

Step by step employee onboarding

Make new hires' first day perfect

Ready to give HR software a try?

Start your free 14 day trial and start saving time with kiwiHR

CapterraRead kiwiHR Reviews on GetAppAppvizer
kiwiHRBook a demo


  • Privacy policy
  • Legal notice
  • Terms and conditions

© by kiwiHR. All rights reserved