With a groundbreaking ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has called on EU member states to oblige companies to fully record the working hours of their employees. The unions rejoice over the decision. But critics of the verdict do not trust the cause and fear negative consequences. Will the recording of working time provide employers with new mechanisms to exploit their employees?
In conversation with the star gives Prof. Dr. med. Hermann Reichold, jurist and professor of civil law, labor law and business law at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, all-clear. He sees the employees as profiteers of the verdict.
Mr. Reichold, what does the judgment of the European Court of Justice mean?
A working time directive has been around for a long time in the EU. It contains regulations regarding rest periods, leave entitlements and maximum weekly working hours. However, this guideline unfolds an explosive effect through the judgment of the European Court of Justice. For now the practical effectiveness of this directive is prescribed. First and foremost, this means that all companies must first introduce a system for recording working hours.
How widespread is the work time recording currently?
Public law institutions already have an obligation to record. In large companies, coverage is also widespread. But for smaller companies it will be a technical challenge to introduce such systems. However, the ECJ leaves room for Member States to choose which time recording methods to give to employers. It just needs to be objectively traceable and reliable.
Will workers benefit from the scheme?
Definitely. The employee is often in danger of working overtime and nobody notices it. It has to be said so openly and honestly. Respectively: The employee notices, but does not get paid. And if only 15 minutes a day, but over the week it adds up and in the end you've worked five hours more, but not a dime.
In my opinion, overtime does not always have to be paid, but it has to be compensated. In the form of time compensation for example. But such mechanisms are only enforced if there are any records of working time. The recording of working time thus protects the employee.
Are there any industries where employees will benefit especially before the scheme?
Yes, especially in the service industry and in the catering industry. Even freelancers will benefit enormously. Currently there is a labor law desert. But also bakers or parcel couriers. In particular, workers in the lower wage sector have to work overtime, which is then not even paid.
Some fear that many an employer could push the recording of working hours to extremes and deduct any smoking or coffee break from working hours.
If the employer wants to take it to extremes, he could probably do it. But every employer will ask, which is not only rational, but also feasible. And that would not be it. I think that's unlikely.
And finally, the employers now give their employees smoking breaks, provide appropriate areas, so they give their consent.
Critics also believe that the regulation could lead to work crowding. Employers could therefore demand more work in less time to avoid overtime.
Work consolidation is already an existing problem. This is not accompanied by the recording of working hours.