European law regarding time tracking

On 14th May 2019 the European Court of Justice ruled that all European states’ employers must implement a time tracking system. The system will have to record worked hours by their employees on a daily basis. How this system will be defined it is up to each state and employer. But, they must take into consideration the specifics of each market and adapt their system.
The regulations want to ensure that both, the employer and the employee respect the law and enjoy the benefits of time tracking.


In 2016, the Spanish trade union CCOO (Comisiones Obreras) requested to the Spanish subsidiary of Deutsche Bank to regulate the daily worked hours of its employees. The trade union wanted to ensure that the bank was complying with Spain’s labour law and that overtime worked was accurately sent. The effort proved to be futile. Deutsche Bank refused to implement a time system. Moreover, in 2017, the trade union also submitted a request for mediation, which the bank also refused.

Therefore, in 2018, CCOO, supported by other four trade unions, filled a claim to the Court of Justice of the European Union to solve the conflict. In January 2019 they got the first opinion, stating that all employers must implement a daily time tracking system for their employees. It also stated that without a time tracking system, the employers cannot prove that they are complying with the labour laws. In case they get sued, they don’t have anything to prove one’s worked hours.

On 14th of May, the European Court of Justice ruled that all European employers must start tracking worked time by their employees. According to the European Labour Law, during a seven day period each individual shouldn’t work more than 48 hours, including overtime. Therefore, for every 24 hours, a person should get a minimum daily rest period of 11 uninterrupted hours.

The European Court of Justice stressed over rest hours and limiting work hours, requested a reliable time recording system in order to protect the employee. Moreover, national laws must respect the ruling and act accordingly.

Time tracking law across Europe

In Germany, the Working Time Act states that the working day shouldn’t exceed 8 hours or 48 hours per week. For more than 6 hours of work, an employee is entitled to minimum 30 minutes rest, while for more than 9 hours of work, the rest period is 45 minutes.
Employers are legally bound to record working hours of their employees. The recording must contain employee name, date, entry and exit time, number of worked hours and breaks.

There are a few exceptions to whom the law doesn’t apply to. The exceptions are the following categories: executives, chief physicians, heads of public services, internal care takers and the liturgical area of churches and religious communities.

France has no general obligation for time tracking

France has a more relaxed attitude towards employee time tracking. Therefore, the main interest is to protect the employee. The legal length of a work week is 35 hours for all companies. The working day shouldn’t exceed 10 hours. In case of an internal agreement, the working hours might be extended to 12 hours. For more than 4.5 hours of work, the employee is entitled to a break. The mandatory rest period is 11 consecutive hours. In Paris, for instance, it is known that the lunch break is usually 2 hours long.

From all the European states, France has the shortest work week, working substantially less than other countries. Despite this, French employees are known for being productive and hard workers.

Time tracking similarities in Italy and Switzerland

In Italy, la vitta e bella, and the Worker’s Statute mentions that the employers have the possibility to control its workers activity. This action can be conducted through audio-video systems for remote workers or time and attendance instruments.
There is one thing stressed, the recordings must be used solely for employment purposes, not for personal violations.

In Switzerland, employers are entitled to monitor an employee’s computer or email. This is allowed in order to ensure that they are properly used, but also to view working time.
The records of hours worked by each employee must be kept for five years by the company. Au contraire, the company risks warnings or even fines.

Time tracking is not the enemy

It may seem like this in the beginning, but after a while, you will realise that’s not the case.

Time tracking is a chore for some, yes we admit, but a productive one. You will know exactly how many hours you work, what for or for which project or task. It benefits you because if you work overtime, you will have proof for requesting more money. Furthermore, you will learn to prioritise and be more proficient, gaining more time for your personal life.

European law regarding time tracking
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