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EU Mandatory Time Tracking

09 Jul 2021

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Mandatory Time Tracking in EU

In May 2019, the European Court of Justice came up with a new ruling that has caused significant changes to the world of business. This new ruling decreed that all employers in the EU must implement a system that tracks the working hours of their employees. These new directives cover a number of factors, and specific arrangements and they are as follows: 

  • Work time & rest

Under these new directives, working hours for employees are limited to an average of 48 hours per week, including overtime. And employees must be given a rest period of 11 straight hours daily, as well as 24 hours of uninterrupted rest every week for the fundamental rights of the employees. 

  • Breaks

Breaks must be given to employees working more than 6 hours. The length of the break will depend on the agreements you have in place, or the times determined by national law.

  • Annual leave

Additionally, employees are given the right to 4 weeks of paid annual leave every year.

Now, it is important to remember the fact that this is not yet a legal requirement in every single EU country. However, the different nations are starting to implement this gradually. Time tracking is important because it allows you to gather important information on your employee working habits, and use this to your advantage. And just because the working hours are reduced, it doesn’t mean that this negatively impacts productivity, so this is something you need to be aware of when implementing this.

In the US, time tracking and timekeeping has been a legal requirement for some time, but not in the EU until recently. Still, it remains an important part of the process of running a company, and lets you look at a number of factors, including hours worked, invoicing, etc. 

The New EU Time Tracking Directive

It is important to understand that this all has context and that there are a lot of things you need to consider as a business with EU employers. Having a little background on when this event happened, why it happened, and what the result of this was is really crucial. There are plenty of great reasons why a time tracking directive can be useful for businesses, and it is also important to look at how this happened, and why.

When did it happen? 

May 14th 2019 is the day in question. This was the date in which the European Court of Justice made its ruling and passed mandatory time tracking laws for businesses across the EU. It’s something that is still relatively new, so there are still countries in the EU that are in the process of phasing this in, and, of course, events such as COVID-19, and the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union have muddied the waters slightly. 

Why did it happen?

This seems to have stemmed from a legal claim brought by Spanish workers union CCOO against Deutsche Bank. The union sought declaration from the Spanish High Court that the bank was obliged to keep records of the daily working times of all employees. The bank had a system in place to record overtime, absences, and sick leave, but nothing to track daily working hours. The goal was to ensure that fundamental workers rights were being met, and that employees were getting the treatment they deserved. 

What was the result?

The Spanish High Court asked the ECJ whether existing laws required employers to record daily working hours. After deliberation, the ECJ came to the decision that Member States should now be required to ensure that businesses set up reliable and objective procedures to measure the daily working time of employees. 

Consequences of Not Time Tracking

The whole concept of time tracking has been greeted positively by some but negatively by others. However, there is no doubting the fact that there are consequences in choosing not to time track, for both employers and employees. Now, of course, businesses who elect not to implement this ruling will be subject to punishments by law, often in the form of fines. In Spain companies can face fines, determined by the size of the business, as it is their responsibility to keep track of worked hours. Fines are very detrimental and can adversely affect the future growth of the business, so it’s imperative to make the most of this, and avoid fines as much as possible. 

What EU Time Keeping Law Means for Companies

This ruling means that EU companies are going to need to change their approach to time keeping, and make sure they set up processes in place to help them effectively track the number of hours worked by their employees. Now, there is no catch-all for the best and most effective ways of doing this. And it seems as though the EU, and, specifically, the ECJ is allowing Member States to set their own specific mandates for this, meaning that provided the businesses follow the specific rules laid out by their country, that will be fine. A time tracking system is something that companies are highly encouraged to implement, and each country within the EU is taking gradual steps to ensure that this happens. 

How Many Hours Should A Person Work in Different EU Nations?

It’s also important to understand the different hours that workers are expected or required to work depending upon the EU member states they are in. We’re going to take a look at three of the major players in the EU, and how time tracking laws may vary within Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. 

German Labour Laws

Under the German Working Time Act , employees are permitted to work a maximum of 8 hours per day and 48 hours per week. And any overtime hours that fall outside of these 8 hours must be documented and held for a minimum of 2 years. 

10 hours is the maximum permitted per shift, and after 6 hours employees are entitled to a 15-minute break, while employers working 9 hours should receive a 45-minute break.

Failure by employers to keep and document this information can result in a fine of up to €15,000.

Spanish Labour Laws

Spain was the first country in the EU to introduce this time tracking law, most likely as a result of the court case between CCOO and Deutsche Bank. In Spain, all businesses are required to keep hourly records of their employees, and they must keep these time records for a period of 4 years.

The businesses must make these records available to the public, so they might be accessed by employees, unions, and the government. And a record should be kept for each employee at the start of every working day, including breaks.

Failure to comply with these directives could land Spanish companies with a fine of between €626 and €6,250, depending on the size of the business. 

Dutch Labour Laws

In the Netherlands, employees are permitted to work a maximum of 60 hours per week, and a shift can be a maximum of 12 hours. What’s more, employees must have 11 straight hours of no work once a shift has finished. 

Time and attendance records of employees must be kept for a minimum of 12 months, and companies that fail to adhere to this can expect fines of between €100 and €10,000.

Time Tracking Benefits

There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to clocking time, and there are plenty of benefits to think about here. You have to make sure you do as much as possible to understand the advantages of this. There are benefits to time recording, for both employer and employer, and we’re going to take a look at them right now. 

Employee Benefits

Employees will benefit from time tracking because it means there is a clear record of the hours they have worked, which means no disputes about wages! It also means they know what breaks and time-off they are legally entitled to. Furthermore, it gives legal protection against employers who might be looking to exploit their workers, and it also means people are able to properly disconnect when they leave work, without being constantly pestered. 

Employer Benefits 

From the side of the companies, time tracking also has advantages. For one thing, it allows the business to be more organised, which is no bad thing! The increased transparency strengthens relations and trust between companies and their employees. Additionally, it also means your employees are likely to be healthier and happier, resulting in greater productivity, thus boosting the business as a result. 

How to Implement Time Tracking in Your Company

There are a couple of things to consider here that will help you to implement time tracking in your company. First things first, you need to make sure you familiarise yourself with the specific laws of your country and how they relate to time tracking obligations. Now, there is time tracking software for businesses that provide recording systems that can be used to help with this, such as flair. And that would definitely be advisable, and this is a great way of being able to implement more accurate and efficient time tracking services. It’s also a good idea to track absolutely everything, even if you don’t necessarily need to, just to be safe.

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