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Spain: social partners strike initial agreement to extend short time working mechanisms to 31 May
Planet Labor, 11 January 2021, n°12299 - www.planetlabor.com

The Spanish government and social partners have agreed to extend temporary employment regulation plans (ERTEs, equivalent of short time working) enacted due to the reduction in business volumes resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. The mechanism should be extended until 31 May, in what would represent the fourth extension of the ERTE mechanism, set up in March 2020 (see article nº11729) to address the first lockdown, then extended and adjusted in May, June and September last year (see articles nº 11920, nº12026, and nº12156). Discussions are to continue on other points. The Spanish minister of labour wants to intensify the training of those placed on short time working, in order to update and broaden their skills to enhance their employability and facilitate their return to work. Meanwhile the employer confederation CEOE is demanding that the measure that has so far prevented companies from laying off affected employees for six months be removed. Employers are arguing that the situation is no longer the same as it was at the beginning of the pandemic and that companies are being forced to adapt to new circumstances and the worsening economic backdrop. The CEOE is instead proposing a transitional solution, whereby in the event of dismissal during these six months, the employer would be obliged to pay back only the social security charges corresponding to the employees concerned and not all the aid and reductions in social security contributions they have enjoyed since March 2020, as is currently the case. The unions’ main demand is that they should be able to “reset the timer” so that the time spent in short time working is not deducted from the calculation of employees’ benefit entitlements.