EU Magistrate Chides Spain on Lax Overtime Tracking

(CN) – In a country where 53.7 percent of overtime goes unreported, Spain faced pushback from a European magistrate Thursday about what EU law requires.

Five trade groups led by the union CCOO, short for Federacion de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras, initiated the case here in 2017, vying to have Deutsche Bank SAE set up a system that records the actual daily hours worked by its employees. 

Though the trade union said such a system would make it easier to monitor adherence to stipulated working times, Deutsche Bank emphasized that Spanish law makes no such requirement.

Setting the stage for an appeal, Spain’s National High Court sided with Deutsche Bank. That court’s ruling from March 23, 2017, concluded that companies faced no legal obligation in Spain to record normal hours worked. Instead companies are required to keep a record of overtime that they must then communicate every month to union representatives. 

Though the court cited a possibility that stricter recordkeeping would impinge on worker privacy, Spain’s Supreme Court sought input on whether the country’s scheme comports with EU law.

In particular the court pointed to a 2016 survey, which found that 53.7 percent of overtime worked in Spain went unrecorded. 

Before the case goes to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, Advocate General Giovanni Pitruzzella offered his input on the case Thursday. The ruling says EU Directive 2003/88 and the Charter of Fundamental Rights require undertakings to set up the hour-tracking system sought here by the unions. 

“In the absence of such a system, there can be no guarantee that the time limitations laid down by Directive 2003/88 will actually be observed or, consequently, that the rights which the directive confers on workers may be exercised without hindrance,” the ruling states.

“Indeed, in the absence of any system for measuring working time, there can be no way of establishing objectively and with certainty how much work has actually been done or precisely when it was done,” Pitruzzella added. “Moreover, without such a system, it will not be possible to differentiate between ordinary working hours and overtime or, consequently, to verify with ease and certainty whether the limits introduced by Directive 2003/88 are being observed in practice.”

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