15 Mar, 2024 @ 08:51
1 min read

Spain’s highest court rules that employees are entitled to 15 minutes of ‘coffee break and settling in time’ at the start of the working day

coffee morning
coffee morning

SPAIN’S Supreme Court has ruled that the time taken for a morning coffee break and period employees take to settle into the working day should count as part of their hours worked.

The decision allows workers a courtesy margin of up to 15 minutes at the start of the day – if this has been agreed between the company and workers beforehand.

This decision stems from a dispute involving the employees of Caixabank and its top brass over the latter’s assertion that hours worked must be a ‘faithful reflection of reality.’

The ruling specifically addresses a 1991 agreement between unions and the bank, which stipulated that clock-ins within 15 minutes before or after the scheduled start time are counted as effective work time. 

However, in 2019 Caixabank released a new ‘Time Registration Guide’ which argued the opposite, provoking the trade unions to go up in arms.

Bored Spanish Public Sector Worker
Workers are celebrating after Spain’s Supreme Court ruled that 15 minutes at the start of the day for coffee and settling in count as time worked.

The new guide claimed ‘the breakfast break is not counted as effective time, unless it has been dedicated to professional or commercial tasks.’

It also introduced a new clocking-in system, meaning that if an employee arrived five minutes late, they would be obliged to leave five minutes later.

The workers’ unions objected to both claims on the grounds that they violated the 1991 agreement of labour rights

The Supreme Court came down in favour of the unions, ruling against the new strict clocking-in system.

“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,” it said in its ruling.

“The fact that the breakfast break is not recorded as an absence or an incident leads to the understanding, without any interpretive effort, that this break is considered effective work.”


Walter Finch

Walter - or Walt to most people - is a former and sometimes still photographer and filmmaker who likes to dig under the surface.
A NCTJ-trained journalist, he came to the Costa del Sol - Gibraltar hotspot from the Daily Mail in 2022 to report on organised crime, corruption, financial fraud and a little bit of whatever is going on.
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