After the judgment of the Federal Labor Court, the SPD parliamentary group wants to enforce a nationwide recording of working hours by law. The court has found that all employers must now systematically record the working hours of their employees, said the vice-chairman of the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Dagmar Schmidt, the Süddeutsche Zeitung . Now the legislature is required to “create clear and practicable framework conditions for the recording of working hours”. The Federal Labor Court made a landmark judgment on Tuesday that is likely to change the day-to-day work of many employees, especially those who work unpaid overtime.
Bernd Rützel, the chairman of the Labor and Social Affairs Committee in the Bundestag, was more specific. “If the recording of working hours is mandatory, then there must also be sanctions for violations,” said the SPD politician. It must be regulated how working hours are recorded. “This must be tamper-proof and forgery-proof. Appropriate apps have been around for a long time.” Rützel is now demanding “quick legal regulation”, one with as few exceptions as possible. “It’s about all employees,” he said. “Except for executives.”
It is still unclear what exactly follows from the judgment, a reason for the decision is not yet available. In the short statement on the verdict, the Federal Labor Court (BAG) writes that employers are “legally obliged to record the working hours of the employees”. It referred to a decision by the European Court of Justice, which ruled in 2019 that EU member states must legally oblige employers to set up a working time recording system. However, politicians in Germany have not yet been able to bring themselves to do this. Court President Inken Gallner said that after the ECJ ruling, Germany had leeway “about how, not whether, the recording of working hours”.
Home office and digital work should also be recorded
The renowned Bonn labor lawyer Gregor Thüsing warns that it is not yet certain whether the court will actually require companies to record working hours – or whether they only have to provide a recording system. Then the employees would not necessarily have to use it. Hubertus Heil’s (SPD) Ministry of Labor explained after the verdict that the further changes that would result for the legislature could only be assessed once the grounds for the verdict were available. The ministry is working on a corresponding draft law.
Group Vice President Schmidt said that it is not about burdening all companies with “time clocks” and costs, but rather that they want to enable a digital system “that also includes home office and mobile work”. Rützel said the record should be as simple as possible but tamper-proof. “Under no circumstances should it be possible to do it on paper afterwards, as has been the case up to now with the documentation of the minimum wage.” For minimum-wage jobs, employers are already required to record hours worked, but have a week to do so. This makes state controls more difficult.
Labor Minister Heil had already tried at the beginning of the year to introduce a tamper-proof recording of working hours in several sectors, he had corresponding regulations written into the draft law on the minimum wage. The coalition partner FDP, however, had the passages deleted again. The justification of the Liberals: This would burden the companies with too much effort.
The FDP relies on flexible working time models
Even after the verdict, the FDP argued for more flexible working time regulations, not for further restrictions. As laid down in the coalition agreement, the design of a possible adapted recording of working hours should be carried out in a joint examination with the social partners, said the FDP labor market expert Pascal Kober the mirror – also in consultation with the employers’ associations. They have sharply criticized the verdict. The coalition should not lose sight of the goal of continuing to allow flexible working time models, said Kober.
Committee chairman Rützel said the truth is that some companies are not afraid of timekeeping, but that they will have to pay for all overtime in the future. “Some in the opposition use bureaucracy to cover it up – and others, perhaps also from the coalition, want to buy time.” But you have to react quickly to the verdict.