Landmark EU Court ruling protects bank workers from excessively long hours

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Court of Justice of the European Union

On 14 May 2019, the European Court of Justice issued a landmark ruling which will protect not only bank sector employees, but workers across Europe, from excessive and unhealthy working hours and ensure their right to daily and weekly rest periods and a proper work/life balance.

The case was brought forward by UNI affiliate at the Spanish trade union federation Servicios Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) after their demands for properly recording working and overtime hours were resolutely dismissed by German finance multinational Deutsche Bank.

The Court recalls that every worker has the right to limit their hours under the European Working Time Directive and that EU Member States must make sure employers have an “objective, reliable and accessible” mechanism in place to measure daily working hours. CCOO has welcomed the ruling which “unequivocally defends workers’ rights and forces States to legislate to guarantee them”. Spanish unions continue the fight to ensure that all overtime hours are properly remunerated and covered by social security.

In its Vienna Declaration adopted last September, UNI Europa called for workers to be better able to shape their working time and strengthen their autonomy via a fair distribution of working hours, working time arrangements adjusted to their different life phases, and a much greater emphasis and investment in lifelong learning.

The current working time culture is harming the fabric of society. Workers are either being pushed to the limit by overwork or being denied the hours they need to work to properly provide for their families,” stated UNI Europa Regional Secretary Oliver Roethig, adding, “the Vienna Declaration provides some concrete solutions to radically overhaul the current working time situation and create better working conditions and autonomy for workers across Europe”.