Crunch is a buzzword in the gaming industry right now, but it's one that often comes surrounded with negative connotations. With allegations of poor working conditions for staff at studios like Fortnite's Epic Games, some studios like 343 Industries and Respawn even feel the need to issue statements that explain how they're working to avoid the problem. As reported by Associated Press, European studios may have just gotten a helping hand from the European Court of Justice in fighting the issue, as a ruling from yesterday now issues penalties for companies that break the EU Working Time Directive that restricts working hours.
The EU Working Time Directive existed long before yesterday. The directive states that staff must not work more than 48 hours per week, and they must have 11 hours of consecutive rest every 24 hours. The problem is that there was no way to enforce the directive before yesterday, with many companies not properly recording overtime hours. However, the new ruling from the European Court of Justice means that employers must properly record the hours that staff work to make sure they're not flouting the directive.
There is always the option for employees to personally opt out of the directive, but they must do so voluntarily and in writing. Once they have opted out, they will always have the opportunity to cancel that agreement and opt back in to the directive without any restrictions. The result of this would be that employers can no longer force their staff to work a back-breaking number of hours, with crunch hours only existing for those who choose to do so. Those who do work overtime hours will also be properly compensated if those hours are recorded accurately.
At the moment, there is no timeline for the implementation of the directive in the member states of the EU, although Germany is believed to be one of the first countries to enforce the rule from January 1st, 2020. When the directive is implemented, the crunch working conditions at European gaming studios should be a thing of the past.
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