In a 15 February 2022 decision,(1) the National High Court had to determine whether a timesheet that reflected employee working hours was valid, as it was recorded on a sheet of paper and without precise start and finish times.
The situation that gave rise to this judgment involved employees of a railway company who, even after their allocated route had ended, would stay on shift to complete additional end-of-service tasks. Their employer estimated how much time these tasks would take and set out their findings on a piece of paper, without stating exactly when the shifts would end. The employees were required to sign these papers.
In light of this, the employees' union filed a claim against the company and pointed out that the Labour and Social Security Inspection Office (ITSS) had previously issued a report that claimed that not including shift times on an employee timesheet was a serious violation of labour regulations. The report concluded with a proposed penalty on this basis
The union called for the implementation of a reliable and objective system to record each employee's working hours and for it to be accessible to both employees and their representatives.
The Court found that, although article 34.9 of the Workers' Statute does not specify how such records must be kept (ie, on paper or with computer software), software would be preferable because the data must be available to the employees, their representatives and the ITSS.
The Court also pointed out that the company's actions proved that they did not have a registration system that stated the start and finish times of shifts; instead, they used a sheet of paper that employees had to sign only when they started work. Further, there was no proof that the end-of-service tasks complied with labour regulations that concern finishing a shift – the time it took to complete these tasks once the train reached its final destination was estimated but not recorded precisely.
For all the above reasons, the Court upheld the union's claim and ordered the company to implement a reliable and objective system to record its employees' working hours. This system must be accessible to both employees and their representatives, in accordance with Royal Decree-Law 8/2019.
For further information on this topic please contact Elena Esparza or Cristina Ridruejo at CMS Albiñana & Suarez de Lezo by telephone (+34 91 451 9300) or email ([email protected] and [email protected]). The CMS Albiñana & Suarez de Lezo website can be accessed at www.cms.law.