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Ban on redundancies, except temporary ones, during lockdown
03 April 2020 @ 19:52


COMPANIES are now not allowed to make staff redundant due to 'structural, financial, technical, organisational, production-related reasons or due to force majeur' until after the national quarantine finishes.

This will continue even if the proposed 'release' date has to be extended beyond April 11 – which appears likely at the moment, but has not been confirmed.

Firms are, however, allowed to lay staff off – a temporary measure which will mean they start back on the job as though they had never left as soon as the lockdown is over.

These employees can sign on the dole instantly, even if they have not paid enough 'into the system' to qualify, and any benefit claimed will not count against their existing or future entitlements to jobseekers' funds, which are a contributory payment capped at two years.

Otherwise, those in jobs which cannot be done from home and whose firm has to stop trading during lockdown due to not being part of the description of 'essential services' will be given leave on full pay.

They will then be required to make up the hours later, unless their employer waives this obligation.

Workers and their bosses have until New Year's Eve 2020 to agree how they will 'pay back' the hours lost, which will be stage by stage, but which, in total and combined with their usual schedule, cannot exceed the maximum of 48 hours a week set by the European Union.

“We cannot interpret the extinction of a job contract, redundancy or sacking, as justified when this is due to causes deriving from the Coronavirus outbreak,” says minister for work Yolanda Díaz.

The decree introduced on March 17 – the day after the national lockdown started – made it possible for firms to apply for temporary lay-offs, and this has now been extended to make it more flexible and less paper-intensive in order that force majeur and other related causes 'cannot be used in order to introduce traumatic measures in relation to employment', and that any 'job loss' is temporary only.

Lay-offs will not affect a staff member's length of service – if, for example, the firm makes an employee redundant six months after the quarantine is over, he or she will not just receive a six-month severance pay, but one which takes into account all the previous time spent working for the company.

Yolanda Díaz says the lockdown has, inevitably, had 'a devastating impact' on the job market and workforce, but does not want this to become a long-term or permanent issue – additional measures were needed, she explains, to protect workers and safeguard employment.

Where employees are on a temporary job contract, any time spent laid off will not be counted – for example, a six-month contract signed on January 1 will not automatically end on June 1 if the staff member has been unable to work due to the shutdown during that time, but instead, the period for which quarantine stopped him or her working will be added on after the June 1 expiry date.

In most cases, except where the nature of the job is temporary anyway, a non-fixed contract – typically six months – is signed at the beginning of an employee's working life with the company and then, if both parties are satisfied, is replaced by a permanent one on expiry.

Employers are no longer able to do what a significant number did before the financial crisis years – keep staff on indefinitely via a string of temporary contracts, so they never became 'permanent', enjoyed full employment rights, or the stability of knowing they would not be out the door at a second's notice three or six months later.

Even though the Royal Decree, or Bill of Law - which came into effect this week after its publication in the State Official Bulletin (BOE) – allows for temporary lay-offs, the government has warned it will be keeping a close eye on these to make sure they are, in fact, Coronavirus-related.



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