Top EU court: employers must track employee hours worked

European Union member states must require employers to set up time-sheet systems
to record hours worked each day, the top EU court has ruled. The judgement by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) could have sweeping implications across the European Union by requiring a standard to measure regular work hours in addition
to overtime.

The judgement concerns a lawsuit against Deutsche Bank's Spanish affiliate for failing to set up a time-sheet system. Under Spanish law, tracking is required only for overtime but not regular work hours. A Spanish union sued, arguing that
this omission meant that overtime might not be recorded, because workers might not always record when regular hours ended and overtime began. According to an analysis cited by the union, about 54 per cent of overtime hours in Spain are not recorded.

EU law, however, sets out specific guidelines for work hours and rest periods, the Luxembourg judges noted in a press release. Without tracking, "it is not possible to determine, objectively and reliably, either the number of hours worked and when that work was done, or the number of hours of overtime worked," they wrote.

In turn, that omission "makes it excessively difficult, if not impossible in practice, for workers to ensure that their rights are complied with," they added. That said, it is up to member states to decide on the particular arrangements on implementing such systems, the judges added. The case now reverts to national courts.

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