Labor excludes compensating for the reduction in working hours with overtime | Economy

The Ministry of Labor is stepping on the accelerator to approve the shortening of the working day to 37 and a half hours as soon as possible. The department led by the second vice president, Yolanda Díaz, sent on Friday to the social agents the draft of the preliminary draft that it wants to approve and which will be discussed in a new meeting on Monday. The text to which EL PAÍS has had access, does not propose an increase in the overtime limit, now set at 80 hours per year, because employers demanded to participate in the pact. This was the central issue of the discussions, which was resolved by Labor with the draft on the table.

In addition, the rule proposes a proportionate salary increase for part-time employees if they continue to work the same hours, and will force companies to day registration is digital, which closes the door to the much-discussed paper files. Likewise, sanctions will be imposed on companies per employee they fail to comply with, and not per company, which will multiply a penalty that has been acceptable to many companies until now.

The most important change introduced by the standard already known, the reduction of the normal working day to 37 and a half hours per week is “effective work on an annual basis”. It is the same wording now contemplated in the Workers' Statute, with the difference in the number of hours. This new regular working day, which shortens two and a half hours compared to the 40 in force since 1983, would come into effect on January 1, 2025. The draft also specifies the reduction to 38 and a half hours “from the entry into force of this law and until December 31, 2024.”

One of the most important demands from the employers at the dialogue table was that the regulations open the door to overtime. Currently there is a limit of 80 hours per year, a limit that CEOE and Cepyme proposed to exceed to address the reduction in working hours. CC OO flatly rejected this option and UGT was only open to a slight increase with much more extensive monitoring and an improvement in pay for those extra hours. “It is very difficult for us to find compensation elements associated with increasing overtime in our country, which, as we know, is a plague. Extraordinary work, often unpaid, is being abused,” said Secretary of State for Labor Joaquín Pérez Rey after the last meeting at the ministry.

Next Monday there will be a new meeting with the PvdA text as the basis of the discussion, in which no measure is proposed in favor of increasing the maximum limit for overtime. After this week's meeting, it became clear how difficult it was for employers to be part of the agreement: representatives of businessmen and workers came to the ministry with the news of the failure of the dialogue they conducted on their own. The most likely scenario is therefore a new bipartite agreement between the government and the central companies, which as usual take narrow positions. The only exception in the past year is the agreement to ensuring equality for the LGTBI community in businesseswhich businessmen are part of.

The unions have rejected that ending overtime should play the leading role in the debate on short-time working, as they believe that the problem is different in this respect: a large part of that working time is unpaid. This is evident from the Active Population Survey data, with only 51% of employees saying they will be charged for hours worked outside their agreed shift in the first quarter. 43% say they work overtime but don't charge for it, and the remaining 6% say they charge some and don't charge for others.

Best partial compensation

One of the main concerns surrounding the reduction in working hours was how it would apply to part-time workers, the vast majority of whom are women (21% of female employees, compared to 6.6% of male employees). The text sent by Labor to social workers indicates that “they will have the right to continue to do the same number of hours of work as they have been doing.” And they should be rewarded with a 'proportionate increase in their salaries'. For example, someone who now earns 1,000 euros by working 20 hours a month in a company with a normal working day of 40 hours would earn about 66 euros more if he continues the number of hours. If this path had not been followed, the salaries of these employees would have been devalued compared to the rest. If the regular workday is already set at 37 and a half hours or less, the change would not change the part-time employee's salary.

The standard also addresses the situation of people with fewer hours, either due to caring for minors and dependents, or for economic reasons of the company: “They have the right to continue to work the same number of hours as they did before. commencement of work, validity of this rule, with the salary effects provided for in the previous section.”

More powerful registration

The Labor draft gives a decisive boost to the audit of working time. Within the ministry they have pointed out that the current time registration, approved in 2019, fails to stop the abuses. It is therefore now required that registration is done “via digital means”, given the fraud that occurs with paper registrations. There is case law against these very rudimentary documents, but they are still used and the current standard does not restrict them. Trade unions point out that fraud also occurs in electronic systems, although this is less common. The registration must be carried out by the employee 'immediately at the beginning and end of each day' and in such a way that the company 'cannot determine its contents'.

“To ensure the authenticity and traceability of the data contained in the file, it must allow the identity of the employee carrying out the file to be unambiguously identified,” adds the rule, which introduces a section in high demand at inspectors and unions. Remote access of committees and the Labor and Social Security Inspectorate to the register is assured: “In all cases, access will be guaranteed through a system with interoperability that allows the sharing and exchange of your information and data.”

Faced with this paradigm shift, Labor is proposing a safeguard for employees: “Employees shall not be harmed by correctly entering data into the register or by exercising other rights related to the recording of their working day.” Working hours that exceed the duration agreed in each case “will, where appropriate, be considered as overtime or additional hours.”

These changes in the register are supplemented by a change in the sanctions regime. If this draft is approved, the company could be penalized for each employee who proves a defective file, instead of a global fine as a company, now set between 751 and 7,500 euros. The most important economic blow was that of the contributions that were not paid to social security, which does differentiate by employee, to which a specific penalty would now be added in the sanctions regime.

Agreement before summer

After the latest meeting, both the unions and Labor have stressed that they want to reach an agreement before August, which means the likely agreement will come in the coming days or weeks. “I have the intuition that CEOE wants to slow down times, waiting to see if autumn arrives, with the presentation of the budgets the situation in Catalonia becomes entangled and there are early elections and there is no reduction in working hours,” said the leader of CC OO, Unai Sordo, on Thursday at the framework of the summer course organized this week by the Association of Economic Information Journalists (APIE) and Menéndez Pelayo International University. The general secretary of the UGT, Pepe Álvarez, accused employers of “with bad intentions” of introducing “noise and smoke” into the negotiations, referring to the prediction made by Garamendi on Tuesday that if the working day were to change significantly, the next government I would change it.

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