There should not be a return to the time clock – but the daily working hours of employees in Germany should be recorded electronically in the future. There should be exceptions to this. These are the key points of a draft law from the Federal Ministry of Labor for a reform of the Working Hours Act. This was available to the German Press Agency on Tuesday. The “Süddeutsche Zeitung” had previously reported on it.

With the legislative plans, the Ministry of Labor is reacting to rulings by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the Federal Labor Court (BAG), which had required recording of working hours.

According to the draft law, the employer should be obliged to electronically record the beginning, end and duration of the daily working hours of the employees on the day of the work. However, the recording should also be able to be made by the employees themselves or by a third party, for example a supervisor. The employer should also inform the employees on request about the recorded working hours.

The collective bargaining partners should be able to agree on exceptions. They should deviate from the electronic form of daily recording of working hours and be able to allow manual recording in paper form. The recording should also be able to take place on another day, but at the latest by the end of the seventh calendar day following the day of work.

According to the draft law, employers in Germany should already observe the judgment of the ECJ after the BAG decision. The BAG decided the question of “whether” the recording of working hours. However, there are still uncertainties about the “how”. It is now the task of the legislature to clarify these uncertainties. According to the Working Time Act, only overtime and Sunday work had to be documented, not the entire working time.

Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) had announced after the judgment of the Federal Labor Court that he would present a legislative reform. It’s about practical solutions, he announced in the “Rheinische Post”: “It’s not about reintroducing the time clock, there are also digital options today.”

The draft now says that when recording working hours, the specification of electronic recording would be a good idea. This makes it easier for the employer to check the recorded working hours, for example through better legibility and IT-supported evaluation of the documents. This also increases the chance of correct detection.

The Ministry of Labor does not want to prescribe a specific type of electronic recording. In addition to the time recording devices that are already in use, other forms of electronic recording with the help of electronic applications such as apps on a mobile phone could also be considered, according to the draft. Collective recording of working hours is also possible through the use and evaluation of electronic shift schedules – if the beginning, end and duration of daily working hours can be derived from them.

In general, the draft states that working hours have become more and more flexible in recent years as a result of globalization and digitization. “Especially in a flexible working world, the recording of the hours worked is of particular importance.” It makes it easier for the employer to control the statutory maximum working hours and minimum rest periods and thus also contributes to ensuring the health and safety of employees.

The possibility of “trust-based working hours” should not be affected by the obligation to record working hours. This means a flexible working time model in which the employer does not specify the start and end of the contractually agreed working time.

The German trade union federation had described the finding of the Federal Labor Court on the recording of working hours last September as long overdue. “The working hours of the employees are getting more and more out of hand, the number of hours worked has remained at a worryingly high level for years,” said DGB board member Anja Piel. Recording working hours is not a bureaucratic end in itself, but a basic condition so that rest and maximum working times are observed.