New developments in the recording of working time in Germany

In its current version, the German Working Time Act (“Arbeitszeitgesetz”) does not require employers to fully record the working time of their employees. However, according to a landmark decision of the European Court of Justice on 14.5.2019 (C-55/18), EU member states must require employers to set up an objective, reliable and accessible working time recording system. So far, the German legislator has not met this requirement.

A decision of the Federal Labor Court on 13.9.2022 (1 ABR 22/21) has brought new momentum to the discussion. The Federal Labor Court agreed with the decision of the European Court of Justice and stated that the entire working time of employees must be recorded. This obligation results from an interpretation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Arbeitsschutzgesetz) in conformity with European Union law. It has remained unclear which concrete requirements therefore apply to the recording of working time.

These uncertainties are supposed to be resolved by an amendment to the Working Time Act. The Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has presented a corresponding draft bill containing the following key points:

  • The beginning, end and duration of daily working time must be recorded
  • Recording must be done electronically on the day of work performance
  • Employers may delegate the record-keeping to their employees
  • Trust-based working time remains possible, but working time violations must be brought to the attention of the employer (e.g. through automated reporting in the case of electronic time recording)
  • Employees may request a copy of the recorded working hours
  • The works council may also inspect working time records
  • Employers must keep records for at least two years

For employers and corporations headquartered abroad, it should be noted that the record of working hours must be kept in German and kept available in Germany in the event of an inspection. Employers who have employees in Germany should therefore prepare for the obligation to record working hours. Contact our experienced team of employment lawyers at rugekrömer to prepare your company for the changes in working time law in Germany.