Employers have to record working hours precisely - end of trust working hours?
Hamburg, May 14, 2019 - There are regulations on trust working hours and overtime not recorded in detail in many companies. According to a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) today (file number: C-55/18; May 14, 2019), this could soon be over: The protection of employees and the European Working Time Directive require companies to have a system for To create a record of the daily effective hours worked. Prof. Dr. Michael Fuhlrott, labor lawyer and professor at the Fresenius University in Hamburg, assesses the verdict:
Regulations on the scope of working hours and health protection of the employee can be found in the Working Hours Act (ArbZG). According to this, an employee is generally not allowed to work more than eight hours a day. In exceptional cases, up to ten hours can be worked if the average of eight hours is not exceeded within the next six months. In addition, there must be a rest period of eleven hours between two work shifts and a break after six hours of work at the latest. State supervisory authorities such as the labor inspectorates monitor whether the regulations are complied with.
The German ArbZG also implements European requirements, in particular the "Directive 2003/88 / EC on certain aspects of the organization of working hours". The rest and break periods provided for in German law can also be found here. In addition, the directive requires member states to "take the necessary measures" so that the relevant protective regulations are observed in accordance with the requirements of the safety and health protection of workers ".
A Spanish worker then appealed in a legal dispute with his employer, the Spanish branch of a German bank. With the support of his union, he asked for an exact time record. In order to guarantee the European requirements the employer had to document the compliance with the working time regulations exactly, the complaining employee demanded. However, this is not possible without appropriate evidence and documentation. The Spanish court therefore stayed the proceedings and brought the matter to the ECJ for a decision.
He saw in his judgment (v. 14.5.2019, C-55/18) that the employee was right: it was an essential prerequisite for compliance with working time requirements to create a system that accurately recorded the effective daily working hours. The member states are obliged to introduce corresponding regulations that ensure this. The employee is structurally inferior to the employer. The protection provided by the working time directive is otherwise not guaranteed.
" The judgment has a massive impact on German labor law, " explains Prof. Dr. Fuhlrott. "So far, there is no legal obligation to record effective daily working hours. German lawmakers will therefore have to create appropriate regulations and oblige employers to operate time recording systems ." In some industries, such as in production, where time clocks or electronic precise time recording are used, the judgment will not result in any major changes. In many other occupations, such as commercial activities with flexitime arrangements, this should be different. Fuhlrott sees immense effects for employers here: "Confidential working hours and overtime not recorded in detail will no longer be possible in the previous form. These must also be recorded after the judgment. The claiming of overtime worked is likely to be many times more for employees due to the future documentation obligation become easier. "
Even if the requirements of the ECJ initially oblige the German legislator to act, the ruling means that workers will be strengthened, Fuhlrott believes. "However, very sensible models for making working hours more flexible should not be left behind," Fuhlrott continues. "Here it is to be hoped that German lawmakers will implement the requirements with a sense of proportion."
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