For companies that do business in the European Union (EU), complying with the EU working time directive could be a bit of a headache. In this guide we’ll explore the elements of this law, what it means for your company, and how to achieve compliance with both EU mandatory time tracking regulations.

What is the European Working Time Directive?

The European Working Time Directive (EWTD) places a limit on the time employees are required to work. The directive also requires that employees should have enough breaks during their working day to eat and rest. Employees should also not work more than 48 hours per week, with sufficient rest time even between those hours.

The law is part of the EU’s effort to improve the quality of life in member states by ensuring employees aren’t burning out. It also aims at preventing employers from exploiting staff who may find it difficult to refuse to work beyond these limits or otherwise finding themselves under pressure not to do so because they are afraid of losing their job.

What are the Main Elements of the European Working Time Directive?

Working Hours

The maximum number of hours that can be worked per week varies among EU countries, but it must be a maximum of 48 hours. Most EU countries, like Spain, have a maximum of 40 hours per week. 

Some countries also apply special rules for night work. In Germany, for instance, employees must not work more than an average of eight hours per day or 40 hours per week between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m., unless they are on call for emergencies during this period. Even in emergencies, they must get at least six consecutive nights off from work every two weeks or four consecutive days off every month, depending on how many nights they work. If this rule is broken then employees may receive overtime pay at double their normal rate.

Country Maximum Working Hours
Poland 40 hours a week on average
UK 48 hours a week on average
Spain 40 hours a week on average
Italy 40 hours a week on average
France 35 hours a week on average

Rest Breaks

Employees should get regular breaks during their working day so they are able to rest to prevent overwork.  This prevents health problems later in life too.

Night Work

Night employees have the right to a healthy working environment. The European Working Time Directive requires them to take at least 11 hours of uninterrupted rest per day.  On average, night employees must not work more than eight hours in any 24-hour period.

Annual Leave

Employees must receive paid vacation days each year according to their company’s policy—typically around 20 days off depending on location and seniority level within an organization.

What does this Court Ruling Mean for EU Companies?

The ruling means that employers must track the duration of time worked and rest periods. They’re also required to record the hours worked by each employee, which is a big change from the current system where it’s left up to employees to log their own hours.

Now, employers must provide their employees with a copy of their records on request—and they can’t charge them for this information anymore. This means that all tracking software should be able to export your data in an easy-to-read format so you can give it to your employees whenever they ask for it (or if they need proof).

With AttendanceBot you can get easy time reports for your employees. Based on those, you can analyze which of your employees are working either fewer or more than average hours.  

How does the Directive Protect Working People in Europe?

The directive protects employees/employees in Europe by requiring employers to track everything from daily and weekly working hours to rest breaks, paid leave, and compensatory time off. Employers are also required to keep records in one or more languages that the employee understands and make those records available at the request of the employee. Records must be kept for at least three years after the termination of employment or when they are no longer required for other reasons (e.g., proof of payment).

Records must be kept in a format that is easy to use, but they can come in many forms as long as they contain all relevant information about how much money was paid out so you can calculate how much tax has been deducted over time.

How Can Businesses Comply with the EU Working Time Directive?

The European Union has been working to make sure that all of its businesses are in compliance with their new mandatory time tracking laws. 

Companies can achieve compliance with the EU mandatory time tracking law by using a software tool that makes it easy for employees to track their time (or let them choose not to). They should also have clear policies and procedures in place so employees know what they’re expected to do when it comes to tracking time and productivity levels.

Secondly, they can use employee scheduling software to create schedules that comply with the directive. Using the software employers can assign shifts to their employees and keep track of their working hours. 

Employers should keep the record from time tracking and shift scheduling for at least up to 3 years, and that too in multiple languages.

What are the Penalties for Not Complying with EU Mandatory Time Tracking?

Monetary Penalty

As far as EU law goes, non-compliance with mandatory time tracking requirements can result in hefty penalties. In addition to monetary penalties, there are also other consequences that employers need to be aware of such as reputational damage amongst clients who don’t trust businesses who aren’t abiding by EU laws regarding data protection and privacy rights among others.

Risk of Getting Sued

Additionally, the company is at risk of getting sued. The employee can take legal action against the employer for not tracking the time accurately if they feel that. 

Court Favors the Employee

Finally, if it comes to a dispute, the court is likely to favor the employee. And you’ll also have to present proof of the time track if your word contradicts those of the employee.

How to Implement Time Tracking in Your Company?

In order to implement time tracking in your company and achieve compliance with EU mandatory time tracking, you will need a reliable employee time tracker. Let’s take a look at one below:


To help you comply with the European Working Time Directive AttendanceBot offers the following useful features:

Time Tracking

AttendanceBot is a powerful time tracking software for both small and medium-sized organizations. A great tool for remote teams, AttendanceBot works from right inside Slack, MS Teams, and Google Chat. The best thing is that it adapts to your team’s needs as you see fit. For smaller teams, it can be a simple time tracking solution while if you are a bigger team that prefers more robust features, it can transform into that as well.

With AttendanceBot, you can assign tasks to your employees and track their progress throughout the day. This allows managers to make sure everyone stays on task and makes everyone accountable for their work hours. You can also receive notifications when an employee takes a break or leaves early so there’s no confusion about when they left the office or whether they are working remotely or at home today.

Shift Scheduling

AttendanceBot is also built to simplify shift planning and make it easier for you to plan your schedules weekly or monthly within the dashboard. You can set up repeat shifts and move around schedule blocks smoothly, and the bot records leave that employees ask for so you can use the information about pre-planned leaves to create a schedule that works for all your shift workers.

What Lesson do we Learn from the EWTD?

Keeping track of working hours doesn’t come without benefits. Let’s take a look at them:

Work-life balance

Work-life balance is not just a job. It’s a lifestyle, and it’s important for employee happiness, retention, and productivity.

The EU Working Time Directive has been instrumental in helping companies achieve work-life balance by limiting the number of hours employees can work to 48 per week. This means that employees are able to spend more time with their families, which leads to happier employees. As you can imagine, this makes them more productive at work because they’re less stressed and less tired when they get there.

Better productivity

A well-rested, happy employee is one who is more productive. Employee productivity increases when they are not fatigued or sleep-deprived.

Employees who are healthy and well-rested have more energy to put into work and less time off sick, which helps employers save on insurance premiums. A study by the RAND Corporation showed that employees who slept at least seven hours per night were 27% more productive than those who slept fewer than five hours each night.

A happier employee means a lower chance of excessive absenteeism. People with regular sleep schedules rarely call in sick. Having an employee who’s reliably present at work can be crucial for high-pressure jobs where mistakes can cost thousands of dollars. 

Finally, employees who are more productive tend to get promoted faster because they’re already doing their job so well.

Reducing Recruitment and Turnover Costs

Recruitment costs are the costs of hiring new employees. They include advertising, interviews, and any other expenses related to finding a suitable candidate for the role.

Turnover costs are those incurred when an employee leaves your business. These can include severance pay, training new employees, and lost productivity during their first few weeks on the job. This is why it’s important to track working hours: by knowing how much time an employee spends at work (and being able to prove this), you can reduce both recruitment and turnover rates.

Improved Focus

Keeping track of working hours will help employees focus on tasks because they know exactly how much time is left before their break comes around again (and also how much longer until lunch). 

There’s nothing worse than having no idea how long some task might take or being unsure about whether or not something needs doing right now – so make sure everyone knows exactly where they stand with regard to their shifts by using AttendanceBot’s monitoring system. It’ll ensure that everyone gets back onto track quickly after straying off course due to unforeseen circumstances like long breaks taken unexpectedly due to an emergency call

To Sum Up

In a nutshell, the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) is a European Union Law designed to limit full-time and part-time work hours that were put in place to ensure that all employees have time to rest and enjoy their lives outside of work. It makes sure that no employee works more than 48 hours a week. The main focus of the directive is on limiting hours worked, an issue that affects every business in the EU.