EU Court issues warning to employers on working time rules

European Court reminds employers to properly record working time

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) last week delivered its judgment in a working time dispute between a Spanish trade union and Deutsche Bank.

The decision serves as a warning to employers to make sure employees’ working time is properly recorded and that employees take adequate rest breaks.

EU working time laws

The trade union sought an order in Spain’s High Court declaring that Deutsche Bank was legally obliged to set up a system for recording the time worked each day by its members of staff.

The trade union argued that the legal obligation to set up a time recording system derived from the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the EU Working Time Directive.

Deutsche Bank refuted the claim on the basis that Spanish law required employers to keep a record of overtime hours only, which employees receive at the end of each month.

Employers must have a working time recording system in place

The CJEU noted that all employees enjoy a fundamental right to a maximum number of working hours along with daily and weekly rest periods.

The court confirmed that to ensure the effectiveness of EU working time and health & safety laws, employers must establish an objective, reliable and accessible system that records the duration of time worked by each employee.

What does this mean for Irish employers?

This latest European decision underlines the importance of having a reliable system in place for tracking your employees’ working hours.

The recent Workplace Relations Commission annual report revealed that the WRC receives more claims under the Organisation of Working Time Act than under any other employment legislation and that “the failure to keep adequate employment records continues to be the most common breach of employment legislation” identified by WRC Inspectors.

Working time rules represent a substantial risk for Irish employers and scribbling down hours of work in a notepad won’t pass muster with a WRC inspector.


Working Time Act – Working Time Directive 2003/88/EC


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