Could anyone explain to me whether there is any difference between the words Zeiterfassung and Zeitverfolgung?
Aren’t both supposed to mean time tracking?
The verb »erfassen« has more than one meanings, but in this context it is »to enter« or even better: »to collect«. (»to collect data« = »Daten erfassen«)
The verb »verfolgen« also has more meanings, and »to track« is the one that is used here, but when a native speaker hears »verfolgen« in German, you first think of »to follow« (in the sense of »to go/run behind someone«).
So you have this translations:
the process of collecting time-data
the process of tracking/following time
As said above, in German you use »verfolgen« more like in
The hound is tracking the fox.
The hound is following the fox.
And it just makes no sense to follow the time, and this is why the term »Zeitverfolgung« will be found in bad English-to-German-translations, but not in a text written by a native speaker. The usual German term is
As Jitter already mentioned, Zeiterfassung is the standard term for tracking time, for example when tracking working hours.
Sie sind zur Arbeitszeiterfassung verpflichtet.
Zeitverfolgung is not typically used. To me, it sounds like following time, having a dog follow time’s trails. This is in line with the second meaning of the verb to track which is generally not intended when referring to time tracking. However, you could also understand it as following the passage of time.
»Da vorne läuft die Zeit! Hinterher!« »Welche eine Zeitverfolgung.«
(Am Telefon) »Ich sitze auf dem Sofa und verfolge, wie die Zeit vergeht.« »Na hast du denn außer Zeitverfolgung heute noch etwas anderes vor?«
(Examples not exactly everyday usage — naturally.)
In the internet you'll find a lot of words (and bullshit), thus, I'll recommend to check books, e.g. with Google Books Ngramm Viewer. It shows that "Zeitverfolgung" has zero results:
But I also checked the google hits to Zeitverfolgung. On the two first pages all hits were either articles about periods of percepution ("www.zeitklicks.de/nationalsozialismus/.../zeit/verfolgung/.../wer-leistet-widerstand/") or commands in project management software (e.g. "Jira"). My guess, "Zeitverfolgung" first occured as an translation error in one of the project management softwares and has been replicated in project management since its first false use.
Zeiterfassung ist the correct term!
As others have mentioned, the usual term used in German is Zeiterfassung. You might use the term Zeitverfolgung if you actually evaluate an employee's work time over a certain period of time to see whether he constantly works overtime or gather other relevant information. But it's not a common term and rather sounds like a literal translation for "time tracking".