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Global Compliance in Europe: What you need to know

20 September 2022 3 min read

global compliance in Europe

Global Compliance in Europe: What you need to know

Companies that operate with offices across different countries need to be aware of the varying global compliance rules and regulations that exist in different parts of the world.

Below we have outlined the general rules when it comes to Europe, so you can be sure you’re adhering to the necessary regulations when it comes to working hours, holiday entitlement and other types of leave such as sickness, maternity and paternity leave. Failure to follow and implement these regulations could result in fines.

Click here to find out more about global compliance in the DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland).

eu working time directive

For EU Member States, countries must follow the EU’s Working Time Directive, which outlines working conditions such as maximum weekly working hours, minimum daily and weekly rest periods and paid annual leave amongst other measures. Many countries work fewer weekly hours than the maximum stated by the EU Working Time Directive, and offer employees additional annual leave than the minimum requirement.

The EU Working Time Directive stipulates that you cannot work more than 48 hours a week on average. This is normally calculated over a period of 17 weeks. There are other rights that EU Member States are required to guarantee, including:

  • a rest break during working hours in the employee is on duty for longer than six hours
  • a minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours in every 24-hour period
  • a minimum weekly rest period of 24 consecutive hours for every seven-day period worked (in addition to the 11 hours’ daily rest)
  • paid annual leave entitlement of at four weeks per year
  • extra protection in case of night work – including average working hours that must not exceed eight hours per 24-hour period, no heavy or dangerous work for longer than eight hours in any 24-hour period, and the provision of free health assessments for night works, and in some circumstances, the option to transfer to daytime working hours instead.

In Germany the EU’s Working Time Directive is due to change over the coming months, as the German Federal Employment Court (BAG) declared on 13 September 2022 that all employees’ working time must now be recorded. You can read more about the changes and what they mean for employers in Germany here.

There are currently 23 European countries that are Non-EU Member States, and therefore do not have to abide by the EU Working Time Directive.

Of these 23 countries, seven are currently candidates or potential candidates for joining the EU and are in the process of becoming members (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey), which of course means they will be subject to the EU Working Time Directive upon obtaining their membership.

The remaining 16 countries, including the United Kingdom which left the EU on January 31st 2020, each have their own stipulations when it comes to weekly working hours, holiday entitlement, sickness leave, parental leave and other types of leave.


The simplest solution for ensuring that your company and HR teams adhere to the EU Working Time Directive, and the local compliance rules for Non-EU Member States within Europe, is to adopt a software solution that can track time, attendance, absence and leave in an intelligent and automated way. edays software takes the headache out of the whole process, and it can be tailored to suit your company’s requirements. Book a demo here to see how it works. 

Georgina at edays
September 20, 2022

Georgina Mackintosh is an accomplished copywriter and marketing professional with a background that spans several industries. Her writing focuses on HR topics such as employee wellbeing, engagement and experience - as well as absence management best practice, how-to guides and news from the HR sector.