Everything you need to know about the new EU law requiring time tracking

Author: Madalina Roman

Last week, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that employers in the European Union must implement a system to track the working hours of their employees. 

Since time tracking is our bread and butter here at Timeular (that’s why we’ve developed our Timeular Tracker to make this dreaded task as easy as possible), we’ve put together everything you need to know about the ruling, what it means for employers, what upsides it might have and what you can do to prepare for the new law.

What exactly does the verdict say?

The ECJ ruled on Tuesday, May 14, that all countries in the EU “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.”

Each country will be free to define how to implement such a system and can determine specific arrangements, taking into account the peculiarities of particular fields or companies.

The idea behind the verdict is to ensure that workers do not work more than the defined number of maximum working hours and that all over-hours are properly recorded. It is also meant to ensure that employees are allowed the legally required daily and weekly rest periods.

What does it mean for employers?

Once each member state has passed the respective laws, employers will be obliged to introduce time-of-attendance systems.

The EU leaves the member states a certain leeway over which time-tracking methods they impose on employers. Depending on the type of company, working hours could be recorded on paper or electronically. What matters is that the time tracking has to be objective and reliable. While there are no concrete laws yet for each country, according to experts, companies will risk substantial fines when not complying with the law.

Are there any upsides?

At first sight, this appears to be a pointlessly cumbersome measure and arguably there could be downsides if these rules get taken to the extreme.

However, there are many benefits of time tracking and this new law could introduce time tracking to a large group of companies who had not considered its benefits in the past.  Knowing how much time we work and how we spend that time can help to detect negative habits and can provide helpful insights, both for individuals and for employers.

People who work too many hours run serious health risks, including cardiovascular diseases, depression or burnout. Additionally, several studies have shown a negative correlation between long hours and productivity. In fact, research suggests that in an eight-hour day, the average worker is only productive for two hours and 53 minutes.

Tracking your working hours can help create awareness around this topic and can be the basis for improving habits and processes in the right direction. Also from a business perspective, it can be interesting to look at combined data of the number of hours worked and task breakdown together with productivity information. It may turn out, for example, that a company might be better off with more employees working shorter hours than with an overworked team that is less effective due to fatigue and stress.

What can you do to prepare for this law?

As a first step, you should determine what kind of time tracking solution will work best for your type of business. For example, if you’re in the logistics industry and need to capture your drivers’ working hours, a mobile app might be a good solution.

If most of your employees work from their desks and often switch between tasks, a physical time tracking solution like our Timeular time tracking device might be the right choice. If you have tried introducing time tracking software in the past and your employees struggled with getting into the habit of it, having a physical device on your desk can be very helpful. It serves as a visual reminder to track your time and makes it incredibly easy to record one’s time and create a timesheet. Users save up to 96% of the time they would usually spend with time tracking and time tracking data will be 2-5x more accurate since it is captured in real-time.