The health crisis triggered by COVID-19 has accelerated the already existing trend of facilitating and implementing remote working policies in Spain. However, forced remote working as a result of the pandemic has emphasised the lack of regulation in this area, not to mention the practical issues previously left unresolved. Published on 23 September 2020, Royal Decree-Law 28/2020 on remote working seeks to provide clearer guidelines in this regard.
In order to illustrate the current status of the COVID-19 extraordinary measures following the lifting of the state of emergency on 21 June 2020, this article summarises the key employment-related measures adopted since the state of emergency was declared and the updated regulation of each measure following the numerous amendments introduced subsequent to Royal Decree-Law 8/2020.
The government recently published a royal decree-law on urgent and extraordinary measures to address the economic and social impact of COVID-19. The measures include clarification of the grounds and simplification of the procedures to suspend employment contracts or reduce working hours due to force majeure, as well as economic, technical, organisational or production grounds.
In a preliminary ruling in a case referred to it by the Galicia High Court, the European Court of Justice has confirmed the existence of objective grounds which justify a difference in compensation paid on the termination of works contracts linked to a specific service (ie, 12 days' salary) and the termination of permanent contracts (ie, 20 days' salary). The Galician court must now decide whether the early termination of a service agreement falls under Article 52 of the Workers' Statute.
The Pamplona Labour Court recently ruled in a case concerning an employee who had been dismissed on disciplinary grounds for his involvement in a fight with a colleague, which had been captured on the CCTV installed in the workplace car park. Notably, the CCTV evidence was admissible under the Data Protection Act. However, as the act does not align with European Court of Human Rights case law and the EU General Data Protection Regulation, the court refused to accept the footage as evidence.
Following the entry into force of Royal Decree 8/2019, companies are now required to record employees' working hours on a daily basis. This article addresses a number of key questions regarding this new obligation, including with regard to its scope, overtime, the recording system or method to be used and the applicable penalties.
The Navarre High Court recently held that an employer had been justified in dismissing an employee for taking her paid annual leave on dates that were unauthorised by the employer. Following this judgment, employees who ignore their employer's instructions regarding the period during which paid annual leave can be taken run the significant risk of being dismissed on disciplinary grounds for disobeying their employer's orders and breaching their contractual good faith obligation.
The employment courts recently expanded the scope of the rights and privileges granted to employees who exercise their right to request a reduction of their working hours, including to take care of a child under 12 years old. A recent Supreme Court decision represents another step forward in recognising these rights when employees are dismissed and the dismissal is declared null and void by an employment court.
Absenteeism costs Spanish companies approximately €77 billion a year and has become such a pressing issue that the Ministry of Finance has announced measures to combat it in the public sector. Companies must be proactive in implementing measures and controls to reduce absenteeism in order to raise employee awareness of such impact and enable them to avoid the implementation of coercive measures.