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Attention EU employers: time tracking to be mandatory

Frank Mittag

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg delivered its verdict on Tuesday, May 14th:

From now on, all EU member states must require employers to set up a system that tracks time worked each day. In addition, overtime and breaks must be recognized as fundamental rights within the European Union.

What the court states regarding recording work time:

"The Court holds that, in the absence of a system enabling the duration of time worked each day by each worker to be measured, it is not possible to determine, objectively and reliably, either the number of hours worked and when that work was done, or the number of hours of overtime worked, which makes it excessively difficult, if not impossible in practice, for workers to ensure that their rights are complied with," the ECJ said.

In summary, the Court's ruling is based on the thesis that without an actual time tracking system, neither overtime nor the time distribution of working time for projects can be demonstrated. Employers, however, are required to limit their full-time employees to 48 work hours per week. Moreover, there should be at least 11 hours between end of work time and start time. This decision favours the workers’ position to demand their rights are respected, as they are now protected by law.

The verdict will have a major impact on everyday work in Europe. For too long, working overtime without compensation has been unfortunately normalized in a large number of occupations. Anyone who has work experience in the field knows the game: spend the entire day in the meeting customers or answer work-related emails in the evening. Thanks to the ECJ judgement, even remote workers will benefit since also activities such as calling in the evening or similar will be counted as working time. All in all, any activity that represents the interests of the company must be counted as working time and be recorded as such.

The dispute behind the new time tracking legislation

The reason for this ECJ judgment originated from a lawsuit by Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), a Spanish trade union, to compel the Spanish subsidiary of Deutsche Bank to set up a system for recording time worked each day. The CCOO argued there was a legal obligation to introduce a time recording system. The ruling was then based on national legislation, the EU's Charter of Fundamental Right, and the bloc's Working Time Directive.

Punching the clock in the workplace

Even before the ECJ ruling, time tracking was an important topic in numerous companies, and employees' time was recorded and managed by a time clock, HR software, Excel lists or similar. Employees who regularly work remote or field staff also were urged to find reliable solutions to record time worked.  Recording time worked in the company is therefore not a completely unknown topic for companies, with pros and cons for employees as well as for companies. You'll find more about it here.

Time tracking with kiwiHR

kiwiHR allows companies to track their daily working time within seconds and also offers automatic overtime balances. With the web application, employees can record their own working hours from anywhere using their preferred device and also view their overtime. GDPR is also complied with thanks to a simple role system that defines all access and editing rights.

In addition to time tracking and attendance, kiwiHR offers other interesting features that allow companies to simplify their HR and manage administrative HR tasks effectively. Businesses can benefit from digital employee records to holiday planning, absences, digital document management, employee onboarding, or a company calendar.

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