Last week, on September 13th, the German Federal Labor Court handed down a decision that German employers have the duty to record their employees' working hours. This decision shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that it’s completely in line with a ruling that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) made three years ago.
In existing German law, employers must track working hours that exceed eight hours per day, or are on public holidays and Sundays. However, as it stands, many employers don’t comply with these standards, since the risk of being audited by the authorities is low.
With the new decision, German employers will be required to track working hours more broadly. In short, employers must implement a comprehensive working time recording system.
The German government hasn’t yet weighed in on the decision of the court about whether there will be new regulations which will minimize the burdens and clarify requirements for employers. At the moment, only a press release of the ruling has been published.
While some employers may immediately implement time tracking software following the decision, others may choose to wait for more details before doing so.
Here’s what you should consider while awaiting further word on new regulations:
- According to the court, the obligation to record working hours applies with immediate effect (technically speaking, this has always applied).
- Employers who already have a time recording procedure in place might not need to implement any changes.
- If the Federal Labor Court adopts the ECJ’s approach in full, employers in Germany will need to keep track of daily and weekly working time, including rest periods and breaks.
- Exact requirements when it comes to the type and manner of time tracking aren’t known yet, and we can assume that they’ll differ depending on the size and type of companies.
As full details of the decision remain to be seen, there isn't any concrete information on whether time can be tracked manually or automatically, or if the companies will need to use software or not.
However, for employers eager to stay ahead of the curve, the simplest solution to this issue is adopting software that can track time and attendance in an automated way.
Not only will this remove the potential headache of implementing a new tool in a hurry when a final government ruling comes down, it will also eliminate human error in the meantime. Your employees won’t have to log their hours manually, and you’ll be able to keep your records clean.
What Does This Mean for Other Countries?
Could this new decision in Germany trigger a cascade of similar laws in other countries?
Time will tell.
But given the continued evolution of labor laws around the world, there’s every chance other countries will follow suit. Especially Germany’s fellow countries in the EU.
So, for any forward-looking companies around the world, adopting an employee time tracking software now may be an expedient way to preempt scrambled mandatory adoption in future.