Time to clock-in again?

The European Court of Justice has ruled that in future employers must track the working hours of their employees in detail. The Luxembourg judges' decision stems from a lawsuit brought by a Spanish trade union against Deutsche Bank. A number of commentators celebrate this as good news for workers. Others are worried it will scare off investors in the EU.

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Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Every hour of work must be paid!

The judges have made the right decision, the Frankfurter Rundschau comments:

“Working hours at German companies must be properly recorded. There's no two ways about it! Companies hire employees to do what they are tasked with doing. This is work that is worth hard cash. It is how companies increase their turnover and profit. It should be a matter of course that those who do this work are paid properly. And that means paying for every working hour.”

Duma (BG) /

Back to good old class struggle

Duma also takes a positive view of the ruling:

“The Spanish trade unions have focused attention on the fact that all the special 'relief' measures granted to companies, which for decades have been seen as stimulating growth and nothing short of manna from heaven, had only led to workers being exploited and driven into an increasingly weak position. ... The liberal mantra that the market economy is self-regulating was proven wrong back in 2008 and this is not going to change. The yellow vest movement in France is the best illustration of this. It's time for another good old class struggle between the workers and capital.”

Die Welt (DE) /

This will put off investors

The daily paper Die Welt, on the other hand, fears the directive will be highly damaging to the EU as an economic hub:

“You can just imagine Nigel Farage gleefully picking this to pieces in his next speech: it will be easier than ever now to portray this socially conservative, anti-performance, hyper-bureaucratic Europe as a growth and investment killer. If Germany's highly complex, employee-centred labour laws are already seen as a massive investment risk, many foreign companies and investors are likely to give the EU an even wider berth after this decision.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Clocking-in is outdated

The ECJ is interpreting the law correctly, but this will not help answer the fundamental questions raised by the case, explains the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

“An honest debate must dig deeper. How, in a digitalised world with ever more employees working autonomously and on flexible working time models, can working hours be regulated so that neither all initiatives drown in bureaucracy nor (self)exploitation becomes the norm? Do EU-wide rules even make sense here? The answer is not simple, but one thing is certain: a blanket system for working hours in line with the clocking-in model is not going to help resolve the issue.”