Working Time Directive – Are You Compliant?

Author: Peter Durrant, Retail Expert
Aug 8, 2019

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The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently ruled under the Working Time Directive that companies operating within member states are required to set up a system to measure and record the actual daily working time of employees.

What is the Working Time Directive

The Working Time Directive which is operational throughout the EU member states sets minimum requirements for organising working time and rest periods. These requirements encompass a number of measures aimed at protecting the welfare of workers and require companies to guarantee certain stipulations in relation to time worked including:

  • A limit to weekly working hours which must not exceed 48 hours over a seven day period, including overtime
  • A rest break during working hours if the employee is on duty for longer than 6 hours
  • A minimum daily and weekly rest period
  • Paid annual leave of at least 4 weeks per year

The Case of Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras v Deutsche Bank SAE

In recent weeks the Working Time Directive has come to the fore of conversation following the case of Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras v Deutsche Bank SAE, a Spanish workers’ union, who brought a case against Deutsche Bank, arguing that in order to comply with Spanish working time legislation, the bank had an obligation to set up a system to record the daily working time of each staff member.

On May 14th 2019, following a referral to the ECJ, it was held that member states must require employers to set up a system for measuring actual daily working time for each individual worker to ensure the limits set out in the Directive (regarding maximum weekly working time, daily and weekly rest periods etc) are adhered to.

In its statement, the ECJ noted; “In order to ensure the effectiveness of the rights provided for in the Working Time Directive and the Charter, EU Member States must require employers to set up an objective, reliable and accessible system enabling the duration of time worked each day by each worker to be measured.

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.”

Simply put, the court ruled that national law within the European member states must require the implementation of “an objective, reliable and accessible system” to record daily working time.

What does this mean for employers?

The ramifications for this may be significant for employers in both the public and private sectors. Whilst it is unclear how extensive the record keeping needs to be – especially when breaks during a working day are not always recorded – public sector employers may find their workers could argue the Charter has direct effect and is therefore immediately applicable to them.
Given the recent ruling, it’s advisable for all employers in the European Union to start considering how to implement a system to measure working time and rest breaks in preparation of the enactment of local legislation.

The CoreHR 3 step to guide to Working Time Directive compliance:

1. Set up an objective, reliable and accessible system for employees.
With recent technological advancements, the days of old punch clocks are thankfully behind us along with the problems they cause for payroll and fraudulent activity. Having a reliable and accessible Workforce Management solution in place enables organisations to easily implement proven and efficient methods to accurately record working time. Cloud based software and apps are now best placed to facilitate this for all employees and can easily be deployed with the added benefit of ensuring payroll accuracy.

2. Ensure the chosen system enables duration of time worked each day and over time worked
A robust Workforce Management solution can transform how a business enables teams to easily collect, track and manage time and attendance as well as supporting rostering requirements and compliance; monitoring actual hours worked, shift patterns and any overtime worked by individuals. Implementing a parameter-driven solution means configurable rules can be put in place to allow businesses to tailor roster requirements to organisational specific rules, ensuring that rosters are built and validated in accordance with specific criteria while at all times ensuring legislative compliance.
3. Ensure the system can calculate objective and reliable monetary values associated to the employee profile and pay
Cloud based or app systems which securely store working time data and have report writing capabilities quickly enables a manager to generate reports in order to review time and attendance, staffing levels and compliance to working time legislation. By keeping track of employee movements on an automated system, records are accurately recorded and more importantly, Payroll departments can rely on accurate workforce data, resulting in fewer payroll associated errors.

If you are looking for a proven and trusted solution which can be quickly implemented into your business in order to be compliant with the Working Time Directive, speak to one of our CoreHR advisers.

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