Time tracking law: everything you need to know

Published on 27/02/2024

Time tracking law: everything you need to know

Published on 27/02/2024

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Time tracking law: everything you need to know

Several years have passed since the government approved Royal Decree-Law 8/2019, known as the working hours control law. In addition to requiring companies to keep a record of employees’ working hours, the law aims to eradicate labor precariousness, which is exacerbated by the many unregistered overtime hours that many workers are forced to undertake.

What does the working hours control law entail?

On March 8, 2019, the government approved the aforementioned Royal Decree-Law, which obligates companies to register the entry and exit times of each professional affiliated with the organization.

The purpose of this working hours control law is to ensure compliance with limits on working hours, create legal certainty for both workers and companies, and enable inspection by the Labor and Social Security Inspection.

The regulation requires companies to implement an effective work hours registration system for full-time employees, meaning those who have not committed to working overtime and do not hold the status of itinerant workers.

The creation of the work hours registry by this Royal Decree-Law ensures the conformity of European regulations with the European legal order as follows: “The company will ensure the daily registration of working hours, which must include the specific schedule for the start and end of each worker’s workday, without prejudice to flexible hours.”

The regulation also establishes how the schedule will be recorded: “Through collective bargaining or company agreement or, failing that, a decision by the employer after consulting with the legal representatives of workers in the company, this work hours registry will be organized and documented.”

Regarding the data retention period, “the company will keep the records referred to in this provision for four years and will be available to workers, their legal representatives, and the Labor and Social Security Inspection.”

The working hours control law includes regulatory reforms aimed at regulating the work hours registry as a means of combating labor precariousness. Rules on limiting working hours are one of the elements at the origin of Labor Law.

The work hours registry applies to all workers and companies regardless of their category, sector, or size. However, some professional categories are excluded, such as top management, part-time workers (for whom there is already regulation in the Workers’ Statute), and those with specific records regulated by Royal Decree 1561/1995.

According to the working hours control law, companies with teleworking programs must also keep a work hours record for remote employees. The ministry recommends using telematic work hours control tools to ensure the proper registration of working hours for these employees.

Teleworking and time control

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security declared that work time registration must continue to be observed during teleworking.

Remote workers have the same rights as on-site workers. Therefore, they must comply with the corresponding work hours.

The right to work flexibility, outlined in the teleworking law, allows work hours to be distributed throughout the day. But how to track the actual working time of an employee during teleworking? By finding an effective time control tool! Here’s how.

Alternatives to comply with time control law during teleworking

As mentioned, all workers must keep time control records, regardless of the type of work schedule they follow. Each company or freelancer can maintain this record in a way that suits their needs. Hence, various options exist:

  • Excel time log: A shared document (via Google Drive or Dropbox) where the specific start and end times of the workday, as well as the worker’s signature, can be included. An ambiguous and outdated system.
  • Time control software: A very useful option that ensures the objective registration of daily work hours, centralizing communications between professionals in a single management program.
  • Time control app: Mobile applications, an ideal method for professionals without a fixed workplace.

It is also important to establish a teleworking policy, outlining clear objectives to avoid misunderstandings. Achieving these changes in your company requires collective bargaining to ensure the success of the projects.

WorkMeter’s time management tool: 100% automatic time control software

A SaaS solution for time control that records the start time, breaks, rests, and the end time of employees’ workdays. This registration is done 100% automatically, avoiding human errors and providing completely objective reports.

Our software collects real-time data and provides different activity dashboards and detailed reports. This enables managers and group leaders to verify if results align with objectives and compare effective working hours during different work modalities.

It features a complete vacation and absence manager, allowing quick handling of employee requests and their work calendar.

This platform centralizes information on employee activity, including work hour records and day management, saving time in traditionally manual administrative tasks.

Impact on companies

The time control law aims to ensure compliance with labor regulations regarding work hours, breaks, and overtime. Failure to comply with the time control law can result in fines ranging from a minimum of 626 euros to 187,515 euros, depending on the severity.

Last year concluded with over 5,000 cases revealing 980 serious violations, with over 18% of companies having made some error. It’s better to prevent by acquiring a time control tool than to regret not acting sooner.

  • Minor violations: These can range from 60 to 625 euros. They usually occur when the company fails to inform its workers about labor conditions.
  • Serious violations: Ranging from 625 to 6,250 euros, these often occur when employees work overtime, and the company fails to respond correctly, demonstrating irregularities in time control.
  • Very serious violations: With values ranging from 6,250 to 187,515 euros, these occur when individuals under 18 have worked overtime without payment, involving serious exploitation.

Time control law: obstacle or opportunity?

Despite the criticisms raised against the time control law, the developers and creators of this time management software are convinced that “Time control and the lockdown that forced teleworking highlight how important it is to adapt to a digital context by acquiring tools that allow us to achieve work success, both at the company and personal levels.”

Seeking to transform the concept of control, they add, “It is essential to stop viewing these systems as absolute mandatory control and begin to notice their advantages. Their implementation enables the automation and digitization of work processes, ensuring transparency in the contractual relationship between the company and the professional, thus motivating good time management.”

Thanks to time control tools, all departments and professionals, having control over their time and work schedule, can review and justify absences or delays, even claim overtime, visualizing their data through a system of detailed reports. This significantly facilitates the work of Human Resources in any company.

Advantages for the company

We know that your company works hard, but the question is, “Is it working well?”

Through new time control systems, human resources managers have platforms that allow them to know exactly how much time employees are working.

It is crucial to control the actual working hours of employees to avoid excesses that undoubtedly contribute to reducing both productivity and team motivation. Studies show that “overloaded” employees perform less and show demotivation. Implementing a continuous improvement strategy in time management allows optimizing the efficiency and work environment of the organization.

The major problem faced by companies is that they lack objective data that allows them to understand work dynamics and processes, making it difficult to identify opportunities for improvement.

A time registration software not only allows compliance with the time control law but also provides real activity data, workload, time distribution in different tasks, etc. These are very useful for optimizing time management.

Advantages for employees

More than a time control tool, it is an ally for the worker.

We know that in Spain, the culture of presenteeism is still deeply rooted. Many still believe that the more hours spent in the company, the higher the level of productivity. We also know that the balance between professional and personal life is increasingly important for workers.

Work-life balance is one of the most valued factors by employees, along with flexible work policies when choosing a job. So, is there an incompatibility between business goals and the needs of workers? In reality, the use of time control and management systems facilitates the convergence of perspectives.

If employees have a clear visibility of the hours they spend working and how they manage their time, they can better organize their daily lives, avoid time thieves, and finish all their tasks without the need to extend their working hours beyond normal hours.

On the other hand, the organization has data on the efficiency levels of each worker, allowing it to move away from the culture of presenteeism and focus on goal-oriented management.

Since the health crisis, many companies have started implementing time control software, embarking on a previously unknown management strategy, checking its functionality and effectiveness to maintain it in the future.

Time control of workers in europe

The time control law in Spain has been a much-debated topic since it came into effect. However, over time, its benefits have been demonstrated, both for companies and employees, thanks to a precise registration system. But, is it mandatory for workers in all European countries to control their working hours?

The time control law project in Spain, published in the BOE as Royal Decree-Law 8/2019 and in effect since May 12, 2019, aims to verify compliance with worker schedules to prevent labor abuses and avoid non-payment or compensation for overtime.

As mentioned earlier, all workers must record their working hours, regardless of their mode of work: in-person,teleworking, or hybrid. For teleworking, it is essential to create a remote work policy where clear objectives are established to avoid misunderstandings and put them in writing in the legally required remote work agreement.

Teleworking allows companies to cross European borders in hiring professionals, so it is important to ensure compliance with the minimum standards set by the directives of each country and the European Union.

Let’s take a tour through the regulations of different European countries to discover how the registration of working hours works and whether there is something similar to the time control law in Spain.

Italy and the “Libro Unico di Lavoro”

The Italian constitution prioritizes respect for workers’ privacy and personal dignity, allowing the employer’s freedom of economic initiative as long as the former is respected. The “Statuto dei Lavoratori,” the figure that protects workers, includes the obligation to control working hours.

This time control regulation was modified with the rise of teleworking and digital transformation, authorizing control systems in remote work instruments to collect information about the working hours of employees in a document, the “Libro Unico del Lavoro.” Overtime can be paid up to 50% more than usual.

Germany and the “German working time act”

Companies are legally required to document the working hours of their workers, demonstrating compliance with the conditions of the German Working Act, an act that regulates and specifies the number of working hours and mandatory breaks for a worker.

To obtain the time registration information, they can implement a time control system or collect information on a printed document. If companies decide to install time control software, the service provider must be located in Germany.

They must also have a registration document, signed by the employee and the employer, containing information about the date, the worker’s name, the start and end of each working day, the total number of working hours, and the workforce. If the company does not comply with the regulations, it risks receiving a fine of €15,000.00.

The purpose of time control in Germany, in addition to determining paid hours, is to control that workers meet their minimum nominal working hours and that companies guarantee mandatory breaks according to the distribution of working hours, all in accordance with the German Working Act.

Switzerland, mandatory and necessary time control

Companies are legally obliged to document the working hours of their employees, demonstrating the daily and weekly working hours of their employees, calculating days off and breaks of thirty minutes or more during each of their workdays.

This report of hours worked per employee must be kept in the company for a period of five years. Violating the conditions of the time control law ranges from a fine to the closure of the company, facing the court of justice.

Netherlands, generational variability in regulation

There is a Working Hours Law that determines the registration of working hours; the working hours and interruptions or breaks of employees during the workday. This regulation protects employees over the age of eighteen, and there is a variation in the law when it comes to employees under the age of 16 and 17.

Nevertheless, all companies are required to keep a record of the working hours and attendance of their workers, including working hours, breaks, vacation days, and sick leave. Employers can choose their own registration method, as long as the labor inspection and all workers can be aware of and have access to their time registration data.

If they do not comply with the regulations, they must pay a fine ranging from €100 to €10,000 per worker.

France, a much more flexible rule

The obligation of time control varies depending on the worker’s employment situation in France.

Employees whose working hours are calculated in hours or days, or whose working hours cannot be predetermined, are required to report a record of hours worked. However, they do not resort to the implementation of a time control system since it is customary to create a monthly document regarding each employee’s work, and a copy is attached to the payroll. This document shows the number of overtime hours.

Portugal, all workers must clock in

There is an obligation for daily time control for companies with more than 50 workers, even for those workers without a fixed schedule.

Interruptions or breaks not included in the workday must be counted, identifying the number of effective hours worked per day and week. They rely on automatic or mechanical systems that facilitate the data.

Norway, more than a law, It’s part of work culture

The registration and time control in Scandinavian countries are deeply rooted in their work culture, as it is conceived as a law that helps separate work life from personal life, allowing more productive work.

Workers optimize their concentration levels and balance their working hours thanks to a record of the start and end of the workday, thus respecting digital disconnection and corresponding payment for overtime.

Companies have time control and attendance systems that provide objective report data, easily accessible and exportable for each staff member.

Sweden, a very particular legal obligation

There is a time control and attendance law for hospitality and beauty companies since 2007 called “personalliggare,” a control system in which all personnel must indicate the start and end of the workday.

This law was established to ensure that all companies pay the correct taxes for work and register all their employees without legal abuses. Since then, companies are required to submit reports and have been incorporating automatic time control and attendance software that facilitates the collection of objective data.

Austria, no control for executives

Time registration and control are mandatory for all company employees but not for professionals with decisive managerial functions. However, they use time control systems as tools to balance working hours.

United Kingdom, a law with control nuances

The company is obligated to keep adequate records to ensure compliance with weekly working time limits and night work schedules.

This obligation does not apply to daily or weekly rest, as the law does not specifically require the recording of all working hours. For this reason, the company is free to decide on the method of time registration and retain the extracted data for at least two years.

It is essential to understand that time control and attendance systems are not obstacles or enemies for workers; on the contrary, beyond being a control system, having the necessary information about the time invested in working days is a very useful process to calculate merit pay or to claim unpaid overtime.

Time registration and control tools balance working hours and favor the well-being of employees. Many time control software protects the right to digital disconnection through alert systems (pop-ups) that notify the employee when they have completed their working hours and must end their day, as well as the need for an active break. Such systems reduce sick leave related to stress and exhaustion.

In conclusion, it is evident that a time control system provides a significant benefit to the Human Resources department by facilitating a precise and objective view of the hours worked by personnel, thanks to the automation of processes offered by these tools.
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