Demonstrating readiness to work every three minutes is unreasonable

On 10 August 2017 the Labour Court of Berlin stated that it is unreasonable to require a taxi driver to press a button at short intervals of time in order to control the employee’s readiness to work (judgement of the Berlin Labour Court dated 10 August 2017, docket number 41 Ca 12115/16).

The employee works as a taxi driver for a taxi company. During those periods of time when he was not driving the taxi but waiting for the next fare, he was instructed by his employer to press a button every three minutes after the occurrence of a certain sound to demonstrate his readiness to work. If he missed pressing the button during ten seconds after the sound occurred, the following three minutes were counted as an unpaid break instead of working hours.

The employee claimed remuneration in the amount of the statutory minimum wage for times waiting for the next fare. He found the time tracking system of the employer unreasonable and from time to time not even possible to keep to. The Labour Court of Berlin (Arbeitsgericht Berlin, ArbG Berlin) mainly agreed to his opinion and decided that the employer’s time tracking system infringes the German Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG). The BDSG only allows an appropriate recording of employee’s data. The employer’s interest in controlling the readiness to work of his employees is generally legitimate. However, according to the Court’s decision there are more moderate methods of monitoring readiness to work. In particular such a permanent temporal observation does not seems necessary. Therefore, times spent waiting for the next driving job has to be considered as working hours, which have to be remunerated.