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3 min read

Understand the EU working time directive

[Updated March 2024] We have news After a couple of years without significant updates on the EU working time directive and the proposal's implementation.

The law will come to Denmark and must be implemented by all companies by July 1st 2024. 

earn what the working time directive will mean for your business.

Understand the EU working time directive

Working time directive

As an employer, you have several obligations towards your employees, including their working time.

Some of them are formalised in the EU’s working time directive.

The working time directive ensures minimum standards within all European countries and contains rules such as the 11-hour rule/rest period, the 48-hour rule, and rules about breaks and vacations.

Luckily, you do not need to read the entire directive yourself.

We provide an overview of the most important things you need to know here.

11 hours rule secures the employees’ spare time

According to the working time directive, your employees have the right to have rest periods on all days of the week.

This means the employees must have 11 consecutive hours of rest outside the workspace within 24 hours.

They are not allowed to work more than 13 hours in a row. The 11 hours cannot be split into several shorter periods.

The rest period can be 8 hours in exceptional cases, but the rule has several deviations and exceptions. You can get an overview of the exceptions here.

48 hours work rule

 

48 hours rule sets limits for overtime work

Even though you are very busy and customers push for deadlines, you, as an employer, must ensure that your employees do not accept a too high workload.

The 48-hour rule determines that an employee cannot work more than 48 hours a week on average within four months.

As an employer, it is your responsibility that the employees do not violate the rule.

Time tracking a demand from the EU in 2019

If a judicial dispute arises between an employer and an employee about the 48-hour rule, the employee may have difficulty satisfying the burden of proof.

In 2019, the EU Court of Justice decided that employers must implement a time tracking system to enforce the rules regarding working time.

It is a requirement that the system objectively and reliably registers the employees’ actual daily working time.

In other words, paper slips and gut feeling are not sufficient.

The ruling states that each member state is responsible for setting the requirements for a time tracking system.

11 hour work rule

Employees must remember breaks

If your employees work more than six hours a day, they have the right to have rest breaks.

Contrary to the 11-hour rules, rest breaks do not have fixed lengths. However, the directive states that they must be long enough to be a break.

Two-minute breaks are not enough for the employee to relax or eat lunch.

There are no rules about when to take breaks during the work day.

[Visit our FAQ about the EU working time directive and get all your questions answered]

Minimum one day off a week

Besides the time off provided by the 11-hour rule, your employees need 24 hours of consecutive rest at least one day a week.

The 24 hours need to be linked to 11 hours of rest.

The weekly day off should preferably be placed on Sundays.

four weeks paid vacation

Demand for four weeks of paid vacation

In addition to rest periods and days off, your employees have the right to have four weeks of paid vacation each year.

You cannot pay your employees to have fewer vacation days per year. An exception from this is if an employee’s employment ends, and (s)he has not had time to have four weeks of vacation.

About the 48-hour rule, you or the employees are not allowed to include the vacation periods when calculating the average.

Night duty must not be too long

There are several special rules related to night duty.

While the 48-hour rule set a maximum average over seven days, night workers are not allowed to work more than eight hours on average within 24 hours a day measured over four months.

In addition, you must offer your night workers free health checks before they start working at night. Hereafter, there must be no more than three years between the health checks.

Keep track of working time (and create a better business)

Would you like to ensure your employees work within the working time directive?

TimeLog provides a good overview of the employees’ working time, flex, vacation and absence. The system integrates with several salary and finance systems, which makes salary management and invoicing lightning fast – and without errors.

At the same time, you can follow your company’s key figures in advanced reporting and plan the working time optimally with the resource planner.

That is good business.

Learn more at our on-demand webinar 

Learn about the EU working time directive and how to choose a time tracking system that supports your business at this on-demand webinar

Date and time: Whenever it suits you

-> Learn more about the time tracking law

 

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