The Supreme Court has issued a ruling establishing that breakfast time, as well as the 15 minutes of courtesy from the start of the day until the worker clocks in, must be considered effective work time if this has been agreed between company and workers or if it is included in the agreement. The judges uphold the appeals of the unions against Caixabank’s decision to consider that the working day record must be a “faithful reflection of reality” and that the minutes after the start time could not be considered as actually worked. The company’s Guide, says the Supreme Court, cannot diminish the rights that were already recognized before.

The judges have studied the case of Caixabank. The unions, in their lawsuit, raised several complaints: that the breakfast break, as long as it does not exceed 20 minutes in duration, should be considered effective working time. Also, markings carried out up to 15 minutes after the start of the day are also considered effective working time. It was in 2019 when the bank distributed its Time Registration Guide to workers, which among other things rejected both claims.

“The breakfast break is not counted as effective time, unless it has been dedicated to professional or commercial tasks,” said that Guide. It also established that when the worker clocks in upon arriving at the office “the system will record the real time indicated on the computer.” That is, if an employee clocks in five minutes after the start of the day, his day will end five minutes later. The unions understood that these criteria reduced their rights in relation to the labor agreements signed within the company since the 1990s.

“The fact that the breakfast break does not have to be recorded as an absence or an incident leads to the understanding, without any interpretive effort, that this break is considered effective work,” says the Supreme Court about breakfast time. The company’s internal regulations gave a margin of up to “the first 20 minutes” so that it was not considered an absence. “We are not facing a relevant incident, in the sense that the time will be counted as worked,” reasons the Supreme Court.

Regarding the marking time and when the clock of the day begins to run if the signing is made within the first 15 minutes of courtesy afterwards, it goes back to the 1991 agreements at Caixabank: “If a marking is made within the fifteen minutes after the start time, it is considered to have occurred at the beginning of the start time and, therefore, it is effective work time.

That the day record includes the actual information of when it was clocked in as well as the official entry time. But there must be “clear evidence” that “the working time is met in the agreed terms, which in the end is the ultimate purpose of the institution.” In the case of Caixabank, adds the Social Chamber, “effective work time must be considered to be the ‘marking’ time carried out within 15 minutes after the agreed start time of the day, for those who have rigid schedule control.”


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