Member States of the EU must require employers to set up a system to measure hours worked daily.

The Court of Justice of the European Union has recently ruled on whether a Member State should have in place a law to oblige employers to set up a system to measure hours worked every day by their members of staff.

The case was filed by the Spanish Trade Union, Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) before the Audiencia Nacional (National High Court in Spain) seeking a judgment declaring that the Deutsche Bank SAE had an obligation to set up a system for recording the time worked each day by its members of staff. According to the trade union, such a system would ensure compliance with the stipulated working times and the obligation to provide union representatives with information on overtime worked each month in accordance with national law, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the Working Time Directive.

Deutsche Bank argued that according to the case law of the Spanish Supreme court, Spanish law requires only that a record be kept of overtime hours and the communication to workers and their representatives of the number of hours of overtime worked. 

The Spanish High Court referred the matter to the Court of Justice.  Information provided showed that 53.7% of overtime hours worked in Spain are not recorded and that the Ministry for employment in Spain considers that it is necessary to know the exact number of normal hours worked in order to be in a position to determine whether overtime has been worked. Moreover, the Spanish High Court contended that Spanish law as interpreted by the Spanish Supreme Court, deprives workers of an item of evidence essential for demonstrating that they have worked in excess of maximum working time limits and deprives their representatives of the necessary means for verifying whether the applicable rules on the matter were complied with.

In the case under review, the Court of Justice of the European Union on 14 May 2019 stated that workers must be regarded as the weaker party in an employment relationship and that the lack of a system which objectively determined the number of hours worked made it very difficult for workers to determine whether their rights including their health and safety, were being complied with.

The Court consequently ruled that in order to ensure the effectiveness of the rights of workers, provided for in the Working Time Directive and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, Member States must require employers to set up an objective, reliable and accessible system enabling the duration of time worked each day by each worker to be measured.

Member States must define the specific method for implementing such a system taking into consideration the particular characteristics of the different employment sectors.

Iuris Advocates has a number of lawyers specialised in employment related issues who have represented clients in the Industrial Tribunal on a large number of cases.