Press release

Pérez-Llorca/ICADE Debate Forum: Reflecting on topical issues around working hours


The Universidad Pontificia Comillas and the law firm Pérez-Llorca held the second edition of the Pérez-Llorca/ICADE Debate Forum on Employment, Compensation and Benefits.

At the event, Juan Pablo Parra Gutiérrez, Labour and Social Security Inspector attached to the Spanish Anti-Fraud Office, gave a presentation analysing the main developments in the field of working hours. María José López Álvarez, Professor of Employment Law and Social Security at Universidad Pontificia Comillas (Comillas ICADE), and Luis Enrique Fernández Pallarés, Employment, Compensation and Benefits partner at Pérez-Llorca, moderated the session.

The beginning of the event addressed registering the working day and how organisations have gradually incorporated the necessary instruments to comply with the Royal Decree-law approved in 2019 which obliges companies to record their professionals’ start and end times. Parra Gutiérrez, from his experience as a labour inspector, emphasised that they occasionally encounter companies lacking certain mechanisms: “Information on time recording must be accessible to the inspector and sometimes we face many barriers due to lack of implementation, especially among SMEs”.

Parra Gutiérrez also pointed out that the regulation applies to the entire market, regardless of the type of company and the provision of services by workers. On this point, the speaker insisted that “it is complicated to reach a technical criterion that resolves the particular issues of the different sectors”, and reserved this task for collective bargaining agreements.

The convergence of remote working and time recording, driven by the pandemic, was another of the day’s key themes. Fernández Pallarés assessed some of the most frequent issues related to time recording, such as the verification of effective working time, flexibility and ways to monitor professionals without intruding on the privacy of workers or excessive control on the part of the company. In this respect, Parra Gutiérrez clarified that, from an inspection perspective, complaints are not processed according to the degree of attendance at the workplace, but according to the working condition to be analysed. In the case of time recording, “the crux of the matter lies in the time spent working, not in the working pattern implemented by the employer”. Elsewhere, Professor López Álvarez explained the Supreme Court ruling that determines that time spent in the bathroom or breaks from remote working due to Internet failures or power cuts cannot be deducted from working time and required to be made up.

Among the topical issues, the experts unpacked the keys to the proposal to reduce the maximum legal working week to 37.5 hours per week with no reduction in pay, recently proposed in the Coalition Government Agreement. For the guest speaker, adapting to today’s labour market reality does not mean applying a mass measure: “We must think of new mechanisms where social agents can come up with the key.” For his part, López Álvarez brought up the four-day working day pilot project, to which the Pérez-Llorca partner added that this measure attempts to propose a solution focused on the “what” rather than the “how” and must address some framework issues to avoid damaging companies’ productivity and, thus, encouraging the underground economy or increased overtime caused by reducing the working day.

During the event, the speaker and the moderators answered questions raised by the audience regarding matters such as how employment inspections work in certain contexts, the application of time registration in contracts and temporary employment agencies, and the collateral effects of the intermittent permanent contract in the current labour market, among others.


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