EU: Employees Must Track Working Hours – Everything You Need to Know


Some time ago, the practice of time tracking was popular mainly in the United States and among the lovers of time management. But with the latest regulation of the Court of Justice of the European Union, it may become a standard also for the citizens of European countries.

Read our article to find out what changes should you expect in the nearest future, if you work within the borders of the European Union.


Labour Law in the EU


Every country has different labor laws. Regulations on the organization of working time are part of such laws. They are also one of the most important laws because they help to establish standard practices for employers and employees in terms of working time and rest. All that to ensure fair working conditions for everyone. And European law is very specific about it:

“As an employer, you must ensure that your staff does not work more than 48 hours per week on average (including overtime), over a reference period of up to 4 months. Your employees must be given at least 11 consecutive hours of daily rest and at least 24 hours of uninterrupted weekly rest every 7 days, over a reference period of 2 weeks.”

Every member state of the European Union can form its own regulations, but they must be in accordance with EU’s directives, regulations, and labor law. As long as you comply with them, you don’t have to worry. But you should also know current working laws in your country to avoid penalties and legal repercussions.


New Regulations on Timekeeping in the EU


So far, timekeeping in the European Union was not obligatory. It’s been used voluntarily by organizations (and individuals) who wanted to increase employees’ productivity, and become more accountable and profitable.

But this may soon change as employers will have to introduce timekeeping systems in their businesses.

If you’re interested in the latest news about time tracking and timekeeping, you must have heard about the turmoil on the EU court’s decision regarding tracking working hours. The Court of Justice of the European Union, the highest court in the EU, ruled on May 14, 2019, that the state members must require employers to set up a system enabling the duration of daily working time to be measured. The decision goes as follows:

“[…] 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.”

It may seem scary at first, but businesses may gain many benefits from implementing a timekeeping system. But let’s go back to the beginning.




How Did It Happen?


It all started in Spain. On March 8th, the Royal Decree-Law on urgent measures for social protection and the fight against job insecurity in the workplace was published in BOE (Boletín Oficial del Estado – Official State Gazette). Its aim is to ensure financial sustainability in the country’s budget.

The Decree-Law introduces regulatory reforms which are to regulate timekeeping rules as a way of counteracting job insecurity. So it’s about compliance with the rules on maximum working hours and overtime. The ultimate goal is to prevent fraud and make sure employees are paid for overtime.

And here is the story behind the CJEU’s (Court of Justice of the European Union) decision. The branch of Deutsche Bank SAE did not record the time worked each day by its members of staff. Since it was against Spain’s regulations, “the Spanish trade union, Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), brought an action before the Audiencia Nacional (National High Court, Spain).”

You can find the full text here

The final decision was that the member states of the European Union must now establish appropriate laws on timekeeping.


How Will Timekeeping in the EU Work?


When it comes to Spain, the country has precise laws on work hours. The most important include the following:

  • The maximum duration of the ordinary working day will be 40 hours per week of effective work on average
  • If the workday exceeds 6 hours, employees must be given at least 15-minute break
  • Employees under the age of 18 are given a 30-minute break and cannot work longer than 8 hours a day
  • If the employer and an employee agree, the employee is allowed to work longer than 8 hours a day
  • Employees must be paid for overtime

Additionally, mentioned above the Royal Decree-Law on urgent measures for social protection and the fight against job insecurity in the workplace commands all companies to track work hours of their employees.

It’s also important to mention that Spain’s law does not define how employers should record work hours of their employees. In most cases, companies will need a clock-in clock-out system that would allow them to monitor when employees start and end work, and when people have breaks. Employer will need to know the exact work hours.

Spain and some other member states of the EU already have regulations on work hours. The rest of Europe, however, will need to create laws and regulations to comply with The Court of Justice of the European Union directive. Timekeeping in the EU will vary across the member states; every country will have to work out specific laws.


How to Track Working Hours in the EU?


For now, timekeeping in the EU impacts mostly Spain. That’s because of the recent changes in the law on work hours. But with the CJEU regulation, other countries soon will have to introduce changes. Many solutions for timekeeping are available on the market. So how to choose the best one?

It must be easy-in-use, functional, and practical. There are hundreds of solutions. These three are the most popular:


It may be a physical sheet of paper, Excel file, or other system that requires manually entering time. This method, however, has more cons than pros. Employees often forget the exact time of starting/ending work and taking breaks. As a result, they enter incorrect numbers. It’s easy for a mistake which may lead to financial loses of the company.

It’s also tedious work which occupies lots of attention and consumes time.


Punch cards are used in many organizations. But not in the older version, where paper cards have to be punched by a machine or a person. Currently, this system works in a digital form. Employees have ID cards and “punch” them electronically to the computer system mounted at the entrance to the company’s offices. Each time employees enter and leave the office, the system records the time. Managers can see the exact hours of work.

This system, however, has one pitfall. If employees take a break and stay in the office, the system cannot record it. There is also no way to precisely monitor the work of employees, unless the organization has specified working hours and overtime. For example, all employees have to work from 9 to 5. Consequently, the time spent in the office after these hours is considered overtime.

It’s the most straightforward method best for companies who need a simple timekeeping method, which does not provide managers with detailed information


Time tracking software is currently one of the most popular methods of monitoring employees’ working hours. Let’s take TimeCamp, for example, which is used by many organizations from all over the globe.

Different companies and institutions use the software to track working hours and keep a record of employees’ work. Additionally, it’s a great source of information on budget, projects’ state, the progress of works, employee productivity, and many other aspects crucial for the business’ success.


How to Use Time Tracking Software As a System for Timekeeping?


Time tracking software come in many forms. Some have basic traits, others offer extensive features. So which one should you choose and how to use it for timekeeping in the EU?  It’s simple, you should go for a tool that will allow you to easily record working hours and keep the records so you can always easily access them.

Moreover, you should choose software that can be integrated with the tools you and your team already use for quick implementation of timekeeping in your company. TimeCamp has all that and more:

  • Automatic timekeeping
  • Desktop, web, and mobile apps available for all platforms
  • Detailed timesheets and reports
  • Real-time time tracking
  • Integrations with the most popular tools (invoicing, accounting, project management, task management, programming, and many more)
  • Leave and attendance management
  • Billable and non-billable time
  • GDPR compliance


TimeCamp has many helpful and useful features. Not only will the software serve you as a timekeeping system but also as a productivity booster. Here are two ways in which you can use TimeCamp:



If you need a simple solution that would allow you to monitor your team’s working hours, you can use only the basic TimeCamp’s features.

With the web timer, employees can easily track how many hours they spend on work. All they have to do is click on the timer when they start and end work, and when they take breaks. Their working hours will automatically appear in their reports, and timesheets will be generated for approval. They can also add entries manually.

It’s that simple and takes only one click.



If you need more than a simple timekeeping system, TimeCamp has your back. Using time tracking software has many benefits. Beside being a clock in/out system, it can be a great source of information about the state of your company and employee efficiency.

How to use TimeCamp as a timekeeping system and project management software? Here’s how the tool can help you:

  1. First of all, automatic time tracking can help you save a lot of time. TimeCamp helps to automate work and optimize processes related to filling timesheets and leave management. Our software provides you with a simple system for managing employees attendance.
  2. You can track actual project hours to detect project overrun and underrun, and analyze your estimation accuracy and your efficiency. It also allows you to forecast time and costs for future development projects.
  3. Detailed reports will always show you a complete history of your project portfolio and actual vs. estimated time. Such data can be helpful, if your clients want to see a project progress but also how the budget is being spent.
  4. Because you have all the data on your employees’ working hours, you have proof of their work in case of an audit conducted by an external organization or even the government.


As you can see, when you implement such a tool as TimeCamp, not only are you compliant with the regulations on timekeeping in the EU, but also can grow your business.

Based on all the data you have, you can draw conclusions, predict future costs, make accurate calculations, save money, increase productivity, and simply make work enjoyable.

👉Check also our list of best time keeping apps

Who Should Track Working Hours in the EU?


Although there are no specified institutions, organizations, or businesses, timekeeping in the EU will apply to everyone. Especially, if you own a company and hire employees. Of course, it may be different for individuals who work as freelancers or run a business as solo-entrepreneurs. Such people usually work on their own terms, have flexible work hours, and do not have to report to anyone.

But it’s important to remember that the rules on timekeeping in the EU aim at protecting the fundamental rights of employees such as the right to breaks, equal treatment, proper working conditions, and protection when the contract is exterminated.




Timekeeping doesn’t have to be bad and cumbersome. With the right approach and tools, you can make it an integral part of your business. What’s more, you can largely benefit from it, while making it mostly invisible. The truth is that for those who treat their employees with respect and obey the law, the new regulation on timekeeping in the EU will not be problematic. Make sure that you care about your employees, how, and when they work to ensure harmony and satisfaction in the workplace.



We will keep updating this article to help you clear up all doubts and provide you with necessary information on timekeeping in the European Union.


Useful links:

The laws on working hours for member countries of the EU

Labour law in the EU

International Labour Organization Database – Spain

Basic information on the European labor law

How to Successfully Implement Time Tracking at Your Company?

Full text of the decision of Court of Justice of the European Union on timekeeping in the EU

Spanish Worker’s Statute Law (in Spanish)

The Royal Decree-Law on urgent measures for social protection and the fight against job insecurity in the workplace

Directive 2003/88/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 concerning certain aspects of the organization of working time 



EU: Employees Must Track Working Hours – Everything You Need to Know

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