• Court says Spain tries to use ‘temporary’ contracts to deny workers benefits
• Ruling seen as boon to ‘temp’ healthcare workers performing full-time jobs
A ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union that Spanish labour law reforms denying temporary workers the same benefits and redundancy pay as permanent workers are illegal under European law could mean 170,000 full-time healthcare workers currently classified as “temporary” under labour law reforms pushed through by the the 2011-2015 conservative Partido Popular (PP) government could now be eligible for equal benefits.
The ruling handed down on 14th September by the European court held that labour law reforms that were part of fiscal austerity measures passed under the PP government then led by current acting-Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy were illegal under European law because they enable the hiring of public and private sector workers under temporary, renewable contracts to perform the same work as employees enjoying permanent contracts, yet without the same benefits or right to severance pay in the event of layoff.
The Court called for the amendment of Spanish legislation to make labour conditions in Spain compatible with European Union norms, prompting Spanish labour unions to call for immediate reforms to reinstate the rights of temporary-contract employees to the same benefits and redundancy pay as all other workers in Spain.
While the ruling could benefit temporary-contract workers in all sectors, among those seen as likely to benefit most are some 170,000 nurses and staff in Spain’s public healthcare sector, where the PP government’s austerity cuts from 2011-2015 froze hiring and sought to cut costs by employing so-called temporary workers with restricted benefits to perform the duties that were previously normally assigned to full-time permanent employees.