In a bid to better control the exact amount of hours employees really work, the Department of Work Inspections and Social Security has amended its system once more. Up until now, it was only obligatory to keep records for employees on part-time contracts but their 2016 Plan now includes full-time contracts also. So, what is behind these changes? What obligations do employers now have? What consequences are there if strict records are not kept?
As most of you are aware, 2013 seemed to be a cornerstone for many changes in regulations of all types and where Social Security is concerned, law changes were made in order to safeguard employees by ensuring stability in the work place, improved and fairer work conditions in line with Workers Regulations (Estatuto de los Trabajadores). Due to Spain’s strict conditions when it comes to hiring employees and elevated costs, for many business owners, it is a double-edged sword. Employees form an intricate part of the functionality of businesses but at the same time, the obligations that come with a contract plus the high Social Security costs have “forced” business owners to get creative and either under declare the hours worked or have their employees work under the table. This has led to a submerged economy that is damaging to the country but in particular to the workers themselves.
Think about it… Only declared work hours compute towards the pension they would receive later on in life. With today’s unstable economic situation, workers feel obligated to accept unfair conditions or lose out on the job altogether, without much thought as to what will happen to them when they are no longer able to work and have to rely on their pension to survive.
This is where these new measures come into play. If stricter control is kept on work contracts and the hours employees actually work, to include any extra hours, they are more likely to be guaranteed fair conditions. A daily record must be kept to detail the time the employee begins work and when the workday ends plus any hours worked outside the normal schedule. Initially, the Inspectors were only interested in part-time contracts because many business owners would register their employees on smaller contracts even though in reality they work full-time hours. If the employer were unable to justify the hours worked, the Inspector would assume the contract is really full-time and would automatically amend the nature of the contract at Social Security. Now they are also tackling full-time contracts to ensure all extra hours are paid and at the correct rate.
There is no official format for the registry but it must include the following information:
- Company name
- Employee name
- Specify working hours as per the signed contract
- Detail set hours worked as well as any extra hours
- Signature of the company’s legal representative
- Employee signature
These records must be kept for a minimum four-year period. There are of course negative consequences if the business owner does not fulfil these requirements. As previously mentioned, if anomalies appear on the log and the contract in question is a part-time contract, it will automatically be amended to a full-time contract complete with the corresponding pay raise in favour of the employee and the additional Social Security costs that go with it. If the offence were paperwork related, the business owner would face a mild fine from 60 euros to 625 euros. If however, the offence were in relation to unjustifiable work hours, this is considered a serious offence and the fine could be anywhere in the region of 626 euros and 6.250 euros.
Social Security is on a mission to combat the unfair treatment of employees and bully tactics used by business owners to avoid having to pay their dues. Inspections are random and unscheduled so it is well worth asking yourself if you have irregular contracts, whether it is worth the risk.