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Employee time records must be digitised

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As part of the final stages of the proposal to reduce the working week to 37.5 hours in Spain, the Minister of Labour, Yolanda Díaz, has also confirmed that the latest draft legislation includes the obligation for all businesses to record the working hours of their employees through digital means.

If this regulation is approved, self-employed workers and companies with employees would be required to incorporate a program to record the hours of their employees, which the Labour Inspection will also be able to access remotely.

The Government wants to implement this future regulation “immediately” even though it has not been agreed with CEOE or ATA. In fact, these organisations, which continue to be the most representative, criticised the “lack of social dialogue” that the Executive is experiencing, which for the first time has come to the negotiating table with a draft that establishes the dates of implementation before the measure has even been debated.

Self-employed and business organisations have warned of the extra costs that the reduction of the working week to 37.5 hours in 2025, as the Government wants to do, will entail for businesses. CEPYME said that it could mean 40 billion in additional costs. However, the reduction of the maximum number of working hours would not be the only measure. If this law goes ahead, all self-employed workers would have to stop recording their working hours on paper and acquire a digital programme to control the hours of their employees.

Furthermore, the document goes a step further and provides that the Labour Inspectorate can access the time records of workers “remotely”, that is, from a distance and without the need for a personal visit. This would presumably be developed through a subsequent regulation that would oblige manufacturers and suppliers to start selling software that allows for an instant exchange of information with the Labour Inspectorate.

According to the Ministry of Labour document, the programs that will become mandatory for all businesses must also allow inspectors to access information on the registration of working hours remotely.

The draft provides that the time record “must be accessible remotely by the ITSS and the workers’ representatives in the company. In all cases, access will be guaranteed through an interoperable system that allows sharing and exchanging information and data.”

As has been proposed with the new electronic invoicing programs, whose regulation is pending, the intention would be for these time recording programs to also exchange information instantly with the inspection. In this way, at any time, inspectors could access the data of self-employed workers and check whether they comply with the limit of hours worked or whether the permitted overtime hours are not exceeded.

To ensure that all labour obligations are met, such as the technical requirements for billing programmes, a series of conditions will be imposed so that the software used by businesses to record their employees’ hours cannot be manipulated. Among other things, the “unambiguous” identification of the worker will be required, presumably through biometric recognition.

The draft also adds that “the company will keep the records referred to in this provision for four years and they will remain available to employees, their legal representatives and the Labour and Social Security Inspectorate.”

Fines for recording working hours have increased by 45%

In May, it was five years since the obligation to keep a time record for employees of businesses and self-employed workers came into force. However, many still make mistakes that, depending on their severity, can lead to heavy fines for self-employed workers. And these fines, according to experts, could multiply if the new digital time record comes into force, which will allow mass monitoring of the data of all businesses.

So far, according to the latest data from the Labour and Social Security Inspectorate, which showed a 45% increase in fines for businesses for failing to comply with the mandatory timekeeping system last year. Specifically, inspectors imposed fines totalling 15.5 million euro, while the average fine exceeded 1,000 euro.

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