Earlier this week, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that all EU Member States are required to record employees working hours, in order to comply with employees’ rights under the EU’s Working Time Directive.
In the case of Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) v Deutsche Bank SAE, the Trade Union, CCOO, brought a group action against Deutsche Bank to seek a ruling that the bank was under an obligation to record the actual daily hours worked by employees. Part of the reason, being to decrease the number of unpaid overtime hours worked by employees.
The ECJ held 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.’
As you can imagine, this decision has received both praise and backlash. The Judgment ultimately means that employers will have to implement a system that tracks the time worked each day by each employee.
This decision will entail a review of the UK’s Working Time Regulations to decide the specifics of what is included in ‘working hours.’ This is likely to be a challenging task and may involve considerations such as whether the time taken by an employee to send one email on their day off counts as ‘hours worked’.
With the current pressure on the government, it is unlikely that this will be a priority on the political agenda when there is a question mark as to whether EU law will remain in force in the UK following Brexit. Consequently, we have some time before this becomes a major headache for employers, but it may be worth getting ahead of the game and reviewing your current system for measuring working time.