The old-fashioned chore of clocking in and out is the last thing you think about in a modern digitized business environment. Yet the recent ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), enforcing the recording of hours worked and breaks taken by each employee each day has reawakened such thoughts.
Federacion de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) v Deutsche Bank SAE
A ruling by the ECJ in May 2019 is set to shake up EU member state employers in relation to their abilities to conform to the Working Time Directive 2003/88/EC (WTD). In reaching a ruling in favor of a Spanish trade union pertaining to the case against the Spanish subsidiary of Deutsche Bank, the ECJ held that “Member States must require employers to set up a system enabling the duration of daily working time to be measured.”
This ostensible enforcement of the existing WTD restricts making staff work more than 48 hours a week (measured over a 17 week period) and enforces at least 11 hours consecutive rest every 24 hours, with provision for rest breaks.
Opt-out and local laws
The WTD is not new and is passed into local laws through national legal systems of EU member state countries, however, the recent ruling also held that “adherence to the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and the bloc’s WTD superseded national laws.”
This enforces a change to tighten most national laws pertaining to WTD where undefined “adequate” recording of hours was deemed satisfactory compliance.
There are exemptions to the blanket enforcement and staff can still voluntarily opt-out, but a duty of care still exists under health and safety laws to ensure safe working conditions for all workers. If in doubt, ask your legal team.
Systems to record time and breaks
It stands, therefore, that in order to comply with the recent ruling, companies of EU member countries will need to install a system of measuring working time on a daily basis, including breaks, and that the system is objective and reliable to ensure staff is not overworking.
Does this mean a return to the 1950’s style factory clocking systems? How can this work in a 24/7 always-on digital mobile corporate environment?
In short no, technology can provide a much easier and better solution, be it swipe cards, fingerprints, gate RFIDs, etc. These are all a more modern way of digitizing the clocking card experience, but the vagueries of our working practices do require more thought than a modern clocking alternative.
What about when you take a call late at night from overseas? How about the work you do on the plane while traveling to a meeting? Does the time taken to write down a great idea while on the train count?
Let’s explore some ideas
Read on to part two of the blog where we explore how artificial intelligence (AI), modern ERP systems and other innovative technologies can support unobtrusive automation of time recording for modern business practices, incorporating time booking into projects and payroll systems.
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Image credit: Stijn te Strake