Attendance management is an obligation provided for in the Labor Code also in hybrid and teleworking regimes. Accompanying employees on a day-to-day basis is necessary. But controlling all your steps, using intrusive tools, is an invasion of privacy, morally incorrect and unacceptable.

With the increase in teleworking, some companies felt the need to reinforce the attendance management and monitoring of employees when they work from home. Underlying, however, are limits. How should telework attendance be recorded? How far can companies go? How can they not interfere with the work-life balance of employees or raise privacy issues?

It is unquestionable that, in 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of companies were forced to resort to teleworking to maintain jobs and ensure the continuity of their activity.

With the impact of the virus easing, organizations are now facing new challenges: employees don't want to go back to the office, at least not full-time. Many have found a myriad of advantages in remote work, such as saving time and money on travel and increasing the balance between personal, family and work life.

Companies have to adapt. And in this new model, it is essential to analyze the critical factors of modern attendance management. This can be done using technological means created for this purpose, without exceeding the purpose of recording hours. Naturally, other tools can be used, although less efficient, such as phone calls, text messages or e-mail, among others.

Companies and employees have different views on telecommuting

Source: Work Trend Index, Hybrid Work Is Just Work. Are We Doing It Wrong? Microsoft

It's true, in the new paradigm, employees and companies are not aligned. A study published by Microsoft in September 2022 reveals that only 12% of leaders are confident in the productivity of their teams in a hybrid model of work. For their part, employees (87%) consider themselves to be more productive working from home.

Another study, by computer security company Kaspersky, reveals that most employees feel more comfortable working remotely. Although 54% of IT professionals consider having more work, 18% of which significantly more, feel less tired (64%) than working in the office. 36% even say they have more energy working from home.

These are just some of the reasons why employees want to continue working from home, reveals one from the University of Texas, USA:

  • in telework, employees save a lot on fuel, work clothes and meals;
  • remote workers work five to seven hours longer than their in-office counterparts;
  • remote workers feel 25% less stressed than their colleagues in the office.

We are facing a complex situation. Many companies still do not know how to ensure productivity in this new context, as Microsoft concludes, but more organizations are still struggling with the root of this problem:

  • How to manage attendance?
  • Does this control make sense at the beginning of this millennium? Yes, at least the law requires it.
  • What kind of solutions should companies turn to?

Pandemic accelerated the digital transition

In addition to the effect on employee well-being, the pandemic has changed the status quo and accelerated the digital transition, increasing attendance management challenges.

This concept had long been debated by the technology sector and information society experts. And, from one day to the next, what would take years to become a reality, had to happen all over the world, simultaneously and without prior notice.

Fortunately, the technology existed to respond to the massive needs of the moment. Experts from technology companies, the Academy, researchers, at conferences and seminars, all over the world say in unison that «the pandemic has done more for digital transformation than the ecosystem in decades».

In March 2020, with more or less difficulties, companies, schools, public services were operating remotely. Naturally, there is a lot to be done in order not to return to the previous stage, with one big difference: now companies and workers are aware that the technology already existed, having evolved a lot in a few years and that it allows them to work remotely without major problems.

Has the pandemic done more for the digital transition than dozens of years of debate on the subject?

Limits to the registration of attendance from a legal point of view

Attendance control is provided for in the Labor Code (Article 202). It is a legal obligation for companies based in Portugal. This rule includes the recording of working time, the start and end times of the working day, as well as breaks and other absences. Even in telework. The objective of the law is commendable: to prevent workers from being exploited by organizations with bad social responsibility practices. But it poses challenges to the vast majority of companies that have to find an effective attendance management model in hybrid models. Even in loco there are obstacles. For example, it is no longer possible to use the fingerprint to punch the point – sanitary issues – and from home this method is not even viable.

Working remotely also entails legal obligations for the worker, who must respect normal working hours (Article 169 of the Labor Code).

Advantages of attendance management

In addition to complying with the legal obligation, attendance management makes it possible to measure the performance and productivity of workers, including the management of absences, holidays and leave, thus contributing to the organization of the work of the teams and the reduction of unexcused absences.

From the point of view of Human Resources departments, attendance management is one of the tasks that can be automated with performance management tools developed for this purpose, freeing up HR for functions with greater added value such as transmitting values ​​and policies or welcoming new employees .

It should also be noted the advantage of attendance management tools to classify and organize data centrally, to facilitate decision-making by managers.

All of this is possible with online clocking tools in the “Unikpeople Collaborator Portal”.

Find out what the Employee Portal is and including the features that can help ensure correct attendance management.

Empresas devem adaptar-se à gestão de assiduidade remota

It is simple to implement a system for registering and managing attendance and monitoring computer use at company premises.

Attendance registration can use entry and exit control systems (cards, biometric data, among others) on the premises. Technologies for monitoring the use of computer systems in companies are not new either. They allow those responsible to check the use of the computer, email and telephone, making it possible to determine whether the employee is actually working.

However, in teleworking or hybrid models, an employer's right or ability to control its employees is more diffuse.

Monitoring technologies applied to remote work can help the company and employees in multiple ways:

track log-in times and record attendance;
support supervisors in monitoring and helping employees at work:
provide information on efficiency and productivity;
monitor network performance;
ensure compliance with employer policies;
comply with legal obligations in a remote work environment (for example: confidentiality of business information or keeping records of working hours, including overtime);

Discover the collaborative tools of the new era, ideal for managing remote teams.

Attendance management is not synonymous with invasion of privacy

Attendance management must be based on technological means created for this purpose and which cannot exceed this purpose. Therefore, companies must be cautious when it comes to verifying the effective performance of work.

Even from a distance, the labor law that prohibits the use of surveillance means for the purpose of controlling performance is prohibited (exceeds the limits of employee privacy.

Therefore, before considering the use of controversial technologies, the employer must take into account that many are illegitimate and even illegal.

  • content monitoring;
  • spyware;
  • geolocation;
  • technologies that allow recording of work and inactivity times (for example, mouse use);
  • access to applications, visited web pages or screenshots;
  • webcam on during work delivery;
  • unauthorized recording of conference calls;
  • among others

in addition to being invasive and entering into the privacy dimension of employees. All means that place restrictions on private life, that offend the principles of proportionality and the minimization of the disclosure of personal data are inadmissible, reads in an article on attendance management in telework, by the law firm Almeida, Dias & Associados.

The employer can legitimately use diverse tools to control the worker's activity through teleconferences, definition of simple tasks or broader objectives, in addition to deadlines. After all, whether face-to-face or telecommuting, the employee has to effectively provide work, in exchange for which he is remunerated, explains the same article.

See how the Collaborator Portal is a strong ally in terms of respect for workers' privacy and data protection.

Recommendations to ensure legal remote attendance management

An article published by Norton Rose Fulbright, entitled “Keeping track of employees from a distance: Monitoring technologies and related legal considerations for teleworking”, explores privacy and human rights issues in teleworking in Canada, using concrete cases and local legislation . Employers should consider creating or reviewing existing monitoring policies:

1 – Develop a plan:

  • Define or agree on a daily work schedule for each employee. For example, an employee with young children might not be working standard hours, but might be online and working at other times;
  • Promote regular team meetings to discuss goals and engage other employees with each other;
  • Define clear and objective performance measures;
  • Define intermediate deadlines (milestones) to fulfill projects and identify problems in a timely manner;
  • Encourage networking and remote social activities;
  • Respond immediately to problems to avoid teleworkers feeling isolated

2 – Develop and disseminate privacy policies:

  • Define rights, obligations, reasonable privacy expectations, monitoring techniques, as well as permissions and limitations including the relationship with electronic devices;
  • Designate a person responsible for privacy in IT, human resources and/or management, to whom employees can turn in case of doubts or concerns;

3 – Consult collaborators:

  • Obtain the employee's legal consent to limit the employer's liability and help ensure productivity in the workplace;
  • Create employee consultation strategies to ensure they are aware of the monitoring techniques used and that they understand their responsibilities in a remote workplace;
  • Consult with workers' representatives (eg trade unions) and verify compliance with applicable collective agreements when introducing or revising monitoring policies.

The employee portal is a software tool that responds to many of the challenges mentioned here, leaving space and time for the development of activities with greater added value, including decision-making. The tool is:

  • Collaborative;
  • Constantly updated – highlighting legislative and regulatory matters;
  • Simplifies communication with employees;
  • Reduces administrative work for HR teams;
  • It presents insights – useful for decision-making;
  • Facilitates performance reviews;
  • It is prepared for remote work.

What can the Employee Portal do for the correct attendance management of its teams?

When it comes to technologies, you will rarely encounter a problem that doesn't already have an answer. This is the case of the Collaborator Portal solution, which helps companies – with the participation of workers in self-service – to improve attendance and performance management. Allows:

  • Perform the Digital Onboarding of employees;
  • Provide pay slips;
  • Deal with justifications for Absences;
  • Mark and approve Vacations.
  • Pay per use: it is a pay-per-use tool, that is, you only pay for what you use;
  • Configure your own rules;
  • Dismiss programmers, expensive by default, because no code is needed;
  • Respond to employee needs
  • Reduce operating costs;
  • Increase productivity;
  • Anywhere and on any device

Plataformas para empresas ágeis

Employees also have their obligations. Here are some tips to help you be more productive working from home:

  • Set routines.  Start by changing your clothes to alert your body to the need to go into “work” mode. Create routines that resemble the process of going to the office away from home;
  • Create a work plan and stick to it. Flexibility is not synonymous with lack of structure. Take advantage of everyone's most productive hours. Whether at three in the morning or at ten at night, the fundamental thing is to meet work priorities;
  • Offer yourself breaks: the worker should reward his discipline with breaks. You will work more efficiently if you define boundaries between work, play and rest.
  • Avoid interruptions from family and friends: explain that you are at home, but it is like you are in the office and it is inappropriate to “show up” as you would on company premises;
  • Television and music: It's up to each one to know if music or the television on help with concentration or are distractions. Each one must discover what is ideal for him/herself and make them one more element to reinforce productivity and work discipline.

by Célia Barata – RegTech & HR Business Manager @Uniksystem

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