The government has been planning to review the Working Time Act for some time now. Now it has come before the Federal Labor Court: working hours must be recorded.
It was a decision from 2019 and no longer caught the attention of many: The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in a timely registered case in Spain: Employers must provide their employees with an “objective, reliable and accessible system”. to measure working hours.
For three years, employers and employees were confused about how exactly this decision should be implemented in Germany. The traffic light coalition agreed on this in the coalition agreement: “In dialogue with social partners, we are examining what sort of regulation is needed in light of the CJEU’s case-law on working time law. Flexible working time models (eg trust-based working hours) should continue to be possible” .
The employer should introduce a system for recording working hours
And now the decision of the Federal Labor Court (BAG) in a case in North Rhine-Westphalia: Here, a works council wanted to exercise its initiative to launch an electronic timekeeping system in its company. However, in principle, the works council only has the right to determine together, not the initiative. So the case was dismissed.
During the hearing, BAG President Inken Gallner said:
From the CJEU decision and the interpretation of German regulations, BAG concludes: According to the current Occupational Health and Safety Law, the employer is obliged to introduce a system by which hours worked can be recorded.
Simply put: recording working hours is already a duty in this country. Professor Michael Fuhlrott, expert on employment law in Hamburg, sees the situation this way: “After today’s decision, the obligation to record working hours immediately applies. For all employees, in all companies, throughout Germany.”
Decision on working hours puts politics under pressure
Experts on the subject speak of an explosion and agree: the legislator is now urged to act quickly. “It can be assumed that today’s decision will also give a new impetus to the legislative process,” said Michael Fuhlrott.
Exactly, because even though the time clock may turn back now, the governing coalition wants to maintain trust-based working hours. This fundamental decision also has serious implications for mobile work and the home office, as there is more control.
Expert: Probably the most important decision of the year
Until now, it was customary to record full work and overtime only on Sunday, but not the entire working time. “How today’s decision will be implemented in practice is still unclear,” says labor attorney Fuhlrott.
What is a sufficient time record, what does it look like – these are questions that employers in particular will have to face more intensely in the coming weeks. Because Michael Fuhlrott is certain:
Christoph Schneider is editor at ZDF’s Law & Justice editorial office.
I’m Harold O’Connor and I work as an author and editor for News Unrolled, a news website dedicated to delivering the latest world events. With my in-depth research skills, passion for news writing, and keen eye for detail, I strive to provide readers with accurate information on current affairs from around the globe.