Germany debates European Court of Justice working time ruling

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-14 23:38:09|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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BERLIN, May 14 (Xinhua) -- Following the ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that all companies in the EU must set up a system to record how many hours their employees work every day, representatives from German industry and politics published their reactions on Tuesday.

"The decision of the European Court of Justice on the recording of working time appears to have fallen out of time," criticized the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA).

The German employers were "against the general reintroduction of the time clock in the 21st century" and believed that "the decision must not be to the detriment of employees who work flexibly".

The ECJ ruling will mean that EU member states must oblige employers to set up systems for recording working hours to check whether permissible working hours are being exceeded.

"If a recording obligation for all employees in Germany came into force, this would cause bureaucratic additional expenditure, without making a contribution to the industrial safety," said Oliver Stettes, employment expert at the German Economic Institute (IW).

In addition, for years, many companies in Germany relied on trust-based working hours and "this mutual proof of trust would no longer be possible if the ruling resulted in an obligation to record," noted Stettes.

According to the ECJ ruling, employees in the EU would also have to register the hours they worked working from home or in the field via apps or on laptops.

"Start-ups in particular do not work according to the time clock as they did 100 years ago," said Florian Noell, chairman of the German Start-ups Association.

The German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB), however, welcomed the ruling on Tuesday. Annelie Buntenbach, member of the DGB's federal executive board said that "the court is putting a stop to flat rate work".

The rights of German employees were "far too often left behind" and the German government now had a duty to "create a legal basis for a general duty to record working hours".

Flexibility would not suffer as a result, said Buntenbach. "On the contrary, instead of using a time clock, you could now document your working hours via smartphone and app".

Similarly, support came from the Marburger Bund doctors' union, whose chairman Rudolf Henke said that the judgement "strengthens doctors in their disputes" about better working time models in Germany's hospitals.

The German Minister for Labor and Social Affairs Hubertus Heil argued that "the recording of working hours is necessary to secure the rights of employees".

"After all, it is about wages and workers' rights, so that is not superfluous bureaucracy either," stressed the minister.

Whether legislative changes would be necessary in Germany was being examined, and Heil said he would seek talks with trade unions and employers "so that we do the right thing".

The ECJ case concerned a Spanish trade union that had filed a lawsuit against Deutsche Bank in Spain to oblige the employer to record the daily hours worked by its employees.