BEERG: EU High Court Mandates Tracking Working Time for All Workers

May 17, 2019

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that EU “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.”

The ruling applies to all workers regardless of whether their time was previously unmeasured—or in the case of UK workers, those who have opted out of the maximum working week—and extends to all sectors.  Nor does the EU make any distinction regarding "white collar" workers, as is the case under U.S. wage and hour laws.  The European Union Confederation (ETUC) welcomed the ruling, saying it “should end the widespread practice of unpaid overtime.”

The judgement raises more questions than answers, BEERG notes:

“While it should be straightforward to measure work that is done at a particular place, such as a factory or supermarket, for example, this is not the case with work that can be done from anywhere using computers and smartphones.  At the moment, we suspect that answering emails or using the computer 'out of office' goes unrecorded in practically all cases.  Some countries, and some companies, have taken steps to allow employees to disconnect outside of scheduled working hours, an admission that being connected and responding can be seen as work."

BEERG will explore these questions in detail at its upcoming Network Meeting in Sitges, Spain, in June.  For more information, contact BEERG Executive Director Tom Hayes at tom.hayes@beerg.com.

Read the full BEERG Global Labor Newsletter.