New European Court of Justice ruling insists companies record the working hours of all staff

A ruling by the European Court of Justice that demands employers establish a system to track staff working hours may negate excessive overtime and “crunch culture” in the European games industry.

As reported by the Associated Press (thanks,, the ruling – which was made on Tuesday following a case in which the Spanish union Comisiones Obreras wanted the Spanish subsidiary of Germany’s Deutsche Bank to be forced to establish a system – came to light following reports that as much as 53.7 per cent of Spanish overtime went unrecorded.

The ruling will now essentially see European companies enforce the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) which restricts most working hours to 48 hours a week, and insists on at least 11 consecutive hours off for in every 24-hour period. The European Court of Justice added that organisations “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.”

There are instances where staff can choose to opt-out of the Directive – for example, where 24-hour staffing is required, or you work in the armed forces, emergency services, security, or surveillance – but interestingly, even if your employer asks you to opt out, you “can’t be sacked or treated unfairly for refusing to do so” and even if you’ve opted-out on a previous occasion, you are within your rights to reverse the decision. Also, agreeing to opt-out of the EWTD must be voluntary and submitted in writing.

How this will be implemented remains to be seen – particularly in the UK as it prepares to leave the EU – but in Spain the government has already introduced rules requiring all companies, regardless of size, to keep records of employees’ daily working hours. Fines are issued to all companies that fail to retain records for at least four years.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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