Working hours: Member States must require employers to set up a system enabling the duration of daily working time to be measured
Daily working time. The Court of Justice of European Union has sentenced today, May 14, that Member States must require employers to set up a system enabling the duration of daily working time to be measured (Judgment in Case C-55/18 Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) v Deutsche Bank SAE)
According to the Court, in order to ensure the effectiveness of the rights provided for in the Working Time Directive and the Charter, the 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 Spanish trade union, Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), brought anaction before the Audiencia Nacional (National High Court, Spain), seeking a judgment declaring Deutsche Bank SAE to be under an obligation to set up a system for recording the time worked each day by its members of staff. The union considered that such a system would make it possible to verify compliance with the stipulated working times and the obligation, laid down in national law, to provide union representatives with information on overtime worked each month.
According to CCOO, the obligation to set up such a recording system is derived not only from national law but also from the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’) and the Working Time Directive
Deutsche Bank contends that it follows from the case-law of the Tribunal Supremo (Supreme Court, Spain) that Spanish law does not lay down such an obligation of general application. It argues that that case-law shows that Spanish law requires only, except where there is an agreement to the contrary, that a record be kept of overtime hours worked by workers and the communication, at the end of each month, to workers and their representatives of the number of hours overtime thus worked.
The Audiencia Nacional had doubts as to whether the interpretation of Spanish law by the Tribunal Supremo complies with EU law and referred questions on that matter to the Court of Justice.
By today’s judgment, the Court declares that those directives, read in the light of the Charter, preclude a national law that, according to the interpretation given to it in national case-law, does not require employers to set up a system enabling the duration of time worked each day by each worker to be measured.
The Court notes, first of all, the importance of the fundamental right of every worker to a limitation on the maximum number of working hours and to daily and weekly rest periods, which is enshrined in the Charter and given specific detail in the Working Time Directive. Member States are required to ensure that workers actually benefit from the rights that are conferred on them, without the specific arrangements chosen to implement the directive being liable to render those rights meaningless.
The Court recalls that the worker must be regarded as the weaker party in the employment relationship, such that it is necessary to prevent the employer from being in a position to impose a restriction of his rights on him.
The Court consideres that a system enabling the time worked by workers each day to be measured offers those workers a particularly effective means of easily accessing objective and reliable data as regards the duration of time actually worked, which facilitates both the proof by those workers of a breach of their rights and also the verification by the competent authorities and
national courts of the actual observance of those rights.
Consequently, in order to ensure the effectiveness of the rights provided for in the Working Time Directive and the Charter, the 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.
It is for the Member States to define the specific arrangements for implementing such a system, in particular the form that it must take, having regard, as necessary, to the particular characteristics of each sector of activity concerned, or the specific characteristics of certain undertakings concerning, inter alia, their size.
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