Workers protected from sacking for repeated sick leave

Labour Min. Yolanda Díaz explains new worker protection measure in Tuesday press conference. Photo: La Moncloa / Público
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Spain’s new Socialist-led coalition government has taken a first step toward dismantling onerous sections of labour legislation pushed through Congress by the previous conservative Partido Popular (PP) government, overturning a section of the law that allowed workers to be sacked for prolonged or repeated sick leave that their employers deemed to be excessive.

Approved in Tuesday’s Consejo de Ministros cabinet meeting on Tuesday and published Wednesday morning in the government’s BOE official gazette, the new legislation overturns an amendment to Spain’s labour laws approved in 2012 under the government of then-President Mariano Rajoy, allowing employers to arbitrarily sack a worker because they had accumulated too much sick leave in any given year.

► News Sources: Público, El Diario and La Vanguardia …

In explaining the new measure to the news media during a press conference Tuesday, Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz said the coalition government decided to overturn this aspect of the Rajoy-era labour “reforms” as a first step toward a comprehensive overhaul of the most onerous aspects of the legislation.

Spain’s Constitutional Court had supported the Rajoy government, claiming that the ability of employers to sack workers for extended medical-related absences was constitutional. But, in January 2018 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that sacking of workers on the basis of the frequency or extent of sick leave contravened EU directives prohibiting discrimination against people on the basis of medical inapacity.

The coalition government has enacted the legislative change via Decreto Ley, making it effective as of its publication in the BOE on Wednesday. Final approval by a simple majority vote in Congress, where the government says it has more than enough support to pass the legislation, is expected within 30 days.

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