What the EU Working Time Directive changes mean for your business
Change is afoot for employers in Germany over the coming months, as enforcement of the EU Working Time Directive mean that all of employees’ working time must now be recorded. In a decision deemed fairly surprising, the German Federal Employment Court (BAG) declared on 13 September 2022 that an obligation exists for employers in Germany to comprehensively record employees’ working time (case reference 1 ABR 22/21).
All about the changes
This will be quite the step up from the current legislature. 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.
While Germany was already part of this, they only demanded tracking of working time in specific use cases. For example, to track the hours of those on minimum wage, or to track the hours of employees in certain sectors (ie. hospitality and construction) to protect them from exploitative practises. Employers also currently must record any Sundays, public holidays or overtime worked, but there’s no current blanket rule regarding recording working hours.
With this new ruling, employers will now have to record all hours worked by all employees. The change has been met with mixed reviews (by politicians and lobbyists alike), but the European Court of Justice (ECJ) says the update will better protect employees from working excessive hours or completing unpaid overtime.
How will this affect businesses?
Employers who fall under this jurisdiction (whether they are based in Germany, or their employees are) will now need to record all working hours for all employees on a regular basis.
However, the Working Hours Act doesn’t specify how this should be done, so the logistics of this change are really down to the business. An important caveat the ECJ have stipulated though, is that the system of choice should be traceable and forgery-proof.
While lots of businesses will surely opt for low-tech options such as timesheets or Excel spreadsheets, it’s likely that the extra administrative burden will have most employers looking for more high-tech options.
Implementing an intelligent absence management and time tracking software like edays will minimise the admin involved. The system allows you to submit timesheets in a convenient way, with the added benefit of being able to assign time to certain activities or projects.
Changing the working landscape
It’s inarguable that the working world has changed massively during, and after, the pandemic. Most businesses have implemented a hybrid approach, with many of them encouraging flexible hours to better suit their employees’ needs. So how will this updated legislature affect that setup?
Well, some people fear it may make it unattainable, as the lines between work and downtime at home are easier to blur and employees can end up working unpaid overtime. There’s also a belief that while this update will strengthen employees’ rights, it could also tempt employers to be stricter and demand more control over employees’ schedules.
However, it’s important to remember that working hours and working location are not intrinsically linked. There’s no reason to think that the need to record hours will encourage employers to demand the presence of their employees in one place (such as the office).
What do businesses need to do next?
An exact date for when employers need to start tracking the working time of their employees hasn’t been released, nor have any specifics about how this must be done.
However, most employers with a presence in Germany will likely want to get this in place as soon as possible. The simplest solution for this is to adopt a software solution that can track time and attendance 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.
Jenni Littlehales is a marketing professional and an experienced author with a background in a wide variety of industries. Her understanding of people, wellbeing and associated challenges give a unique perspective in the evolving landscape of HR and technology.