Spain’s coalition government on Friday passed decree legislation that will extend the ERTEs temporary work furlough program through September 30th, following an agreement reached Wednesday by the government’s Labour Ministry with leaders of Spain’s leading trade union federations and employers associations.
Following approval of the legislation by the cabinet-level Council of Ministers on Friday, Minister of Labor and Social Economy Yolanda Díaz and Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration José Luis Escrivá presented the II Social Agreement in Defense of Employment, which summarizes the points agreed by the government with labour and business leaders after nearly three weeks of difficult negotiation.
Published Saturday in the official BOE government gazette, the legislation establishes different exemptions for companies from paying into the normal Social Security employee benefits program. The exemptions will be determined according to how much a company’s current economic situation has been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Unemployment benefits paid out by the Social Security treasury to workers will remain the same through the end of September, with no change to the conditions and requirements set out at the beginning of the pandemic.
The agreement effectively means reducing the coverage of Social Security contributions that the State currently covers for workers affected by an ERTE, something that employers balked at. But, the final agreement represented a compromise on the government’s part and established conditions for re-instituting the temporary ERTE furlough program should a second COVID-19 wave strike in the autumn or winter months.
The ERTEs extension announcement came immediately on the heels of Congress passing the coalition government’s decree legislation governing the post-COVID ‘new normality’, approved with the votes of deputies of the conservative Partido Popular, the centre-right Ciudadanos party, as well as the coalition government partners Unidas Podemos and the Socialist party. Only the ultra-right VOX party and separatist parties from Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia opposed the legislation.
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