European employers must record staff working hours: 5 questions answered

European employers must record staff working hours: 5 questions answered
On Tuesday 14 May the European Court of Justice ruled that employers must establish a system to accurately track the working hours of their staff. The court said it was necessary to record employees' hours so that legal working time limits can be properly applied. The opinions about this new measure are raising a lot of controversy, but are these all so well-founded? We offer you more background and insights based on recent research.
 

Control or freedom?

For some time now, the topic of time registration has been provoking new discussions about flexible work, burn-outs and bore-outs. Is this new law a pain or a gain? Opinions are strongly divided and the most controversial are in the lead. The German Employers' Association BDA criticized the judgment as being "behind the times," telling the Süddeutsche Zeitung: "We employers are against the general reintroduction of the punch clock in the 21st century." Like some other employers' organisations, they do not see that time registration can mean more flexibility.

Time registration solutions are far too often aligned with an old-fashioned control tool. Although Belgian research shows that 4 out of 10 employees are asking for more insight into the time worked and overtime. In today's society, where work and private life are increasingly under pressure, employees demand more flexibility to manage their own work and private life. By making this possible as an employer, you invest directly in the satisfaction and commitment of your employees. A win-win situation, don’t you agree?

What does it change?

The European Court stated that all countries in the 28-nation 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.” It added that member states were responsible for implementing the EU's working time directive, which outlines maximum working hours as well as minimum daily and weekly rest periods for employees. This criterion is resulting in Labor Inspectors asking for daily working hours records and, unless overruled by the Supreme Court, it appears likely that effective compliance must be kept in all cases and not, as understood until now, only to control overtime.

The decision is ostensibly an effort to enforce the European Working Time Directive, which restricts employers from making staff work more than 48 hours a week, and grants at least 11 consecutive hours of rest every 24 hours. For all European companies who are currently not measuring staff working hours, this mean that the current HR processes must be redesigned.

How do you measure the working time for teleworking and employees on the road?

In recent years, time registration has seen an enormous rise apart from the use of time clocks. Online and mobile Cloud-applications are making a recognizable entrance in the market. There are two good reasons for this. Mobile technology, for one, is no longer the prerogative of companies but of the general public. Who doesn't have a smartphone today? The door is wide open for non-local, fast and continuous communication and this time the question comes from the employee's point of view. As second reason, the number of small businesses active in the services sector has increased tremendously and this trend does not stop. This type of worker often does not have a fixed schedule and is on the road most of the time. How do you measure his or her hours worked?

Nowadays, time registration no longer has to be done via a time clock. For example, 76% of Protime customers have a time clock, which means that a fourth of our customers use a different solution. There are numerous cloud solutions on the market that allow you to record your working time in a mobile and digital format, making it accessible to homeworkers and employees who are often on the road.

How can time attendance help increase the flexibility of your employees?

Research shows that flexibility and autonomy are a good way to prevent burn-outs. Initially, time clocks and time recording do not seem to contribute to this, but the reverse is less true. Time registration software is configured to suit each company and its employees and is therefore perfect for flexible time schedules. Employees gain insight into their own productivity level and HR can detect the first signs of burn-out among personnel in the figures.

"Employees who systematically work overtime have a chance to run into their limits sooner or later. Their work-life balance is then out of balance because they do not give themselves the time they need to work. More insight into the hours worked can help them to get a better grip on the workload. Employees only have to win; that way they keep their work 'workable'", states Peter s'Jongers, CEO of Protime.

Are clocks still of any use?

The clocks as we knew them have evolved enormously. But it must also be said that 'time registration' in general has seen an enormous rise in recent years in addition to the time clocks. It's all about technology. Think of internet, mobile data, wifi, cloud, touchscreens, scanning etc. Whether your company benefits from a physical time clock or rather with another Cloud application depends on 4 key questions. Contact us to find out together what your company can benefit most from to guarantee both flexibility and safety.