1.  What are the current regulations for time tracking?

2. What does the new regulation mean for German employers?

3. How accurately must working hours be recorded?

4. What about data protection?

5. Are trust-based working hours history?

Germany’s government plans a new legislature on the tracking of working hours. We tell you what this means for you as an employer.

A ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in May 2019 changed the foundation of time tracking. In summary, it states that the protection of the employee and the EU Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC) requires all companies to create a system for recording the actual daily working hours. Although the individual instances still have to agree on final legal wording, a first draft is already in progress. One thing is certain: The obligatory time recording is coming. And perhaps sooner than expected. Therefore, it is especially important for all companies that do not yet have a time recording system to take a detailed look at different solutions.  

What are the Current Regulations for Time Tracking?

For some companies, there is already a legal obligation to record working hours. This includes, for example, part-time employed persons who do work in economic sectors with a particular risk of abuse. Corresponding regulations derive from laws to fight illegal employment.

Besides, there are basic rules for recording working hours that apply to every employer. § 16 Absatz 2 Arbeitzeitgesetz (ArbZG) states that an employer has to record the hours of their employees that exceed the planned hours of the day. The same applies to additional working hours on Sundays and holidays.

However, if the regular working hours are not recorded, it is difficult to declare “overtime” correctly, e.g. in case of a dispute. For this reason,  even small companies should introduce a general time recording system.

What Does the New Regulation Mean for German Employers?

The ruling by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice demands that all EU countries oblige employers to set up a time recording system. The requirement to ensure that all employees’ working hours are accurately recorded therefore applies to all German employers. The Federal Ministry of Labour is currently working on a corresponding draft without involving the public. Companies that do not have a time recording system ought to acquire one asap. 

Currently (as of July 2020), it is unknown when the new regulation will take effect. However, since the responsible authorities have increasingly commented on the topic in recent months, it can be assumed that implementation will take place soon. 


According to a ruling of the Arbeitsgerichts Emden, there is already an obligation to set up a working time recording system (Arbeitsgerichts Emden of February, 20th 2020, Az.: 2 Ca 94/19).

How Accurately Working Hours Have to Be Tracked?

To be able to speak of legally compliant documentation, employers must record the beginning, end, and duration of their employees’ daily working hours. Break times are not part of the working time, so they have to be calculated or accordingly not recorded. 

All records must be kept for at least two years. However, since time records are usually also the basis for payroll accounting, they can be kept up to the general accounting retention period, usually six years.

The form of time recording is still up to you at this point in time. A time recording system can look different. The possibilities range from stationary systems, where employees log on or off with a card every morning and evening, to digital systems in the form of desktop or app applications. You could use an Excel spreadsheet. However, this is increasingly discouraged. The digital change offers much more sensible solutions. In addition to simple time recording, those come along with powerful optimization potentials like Canri.

What about Data Protection?

The recording of working hours is the recording of personal data of employees. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies accordingly. For data protection reasons, there is nothing wrong with the systematic recording of working hours. However, it is important that the time recording does not lead to permanent monitoring of the employees. To avoid possible conflicts from the beginning, it is especially worth considering using digital time recording systems like a suitable time recording software. In combination with a rights concept and corresponding access rights that can be assigned in the software, you are on the safe side here.

There are many different providers on the market. Here it is important to consider which criteria a time recording tool must meet for your specific case. We also offer integrated time recording. However, we combine it with the other company divisions to create “movement profiles” of the employees and to uncover optimization potentials. 

Are Trust-based Working Hours History?

As mentioned above, there are no final regulations yet. The legal consequences for small businesses and other companies are still pending. Trust-based working time will probably continue to be possible. Solutions could be that the contract between employee and employer gives the trust-based working time a framework within which the work must be recorded. It would also be conceivable to allocate the times. For example, working hours on a Saturday could be apportioned to the working days (Mon-Fri) of the week if these are the contractual working days. In concrete terms, the new regulations are intended to help ensure that agreed working hours are adhered to, both in terms of the amount and the timing. In the case of trusted working hours, the agreed weekly working hours would be decisive. Important is the possibility for the employee to record the 20 minutes of email replies late in the evening, which can be easily implemented by the digital time recording systems.

We offer you comprehensive time recording

Learn More
Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from Youtube
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google
Consent to display content from Spotify
Sound Cloud
Consent to display content from Sound