It facilitates the processing of the procedures of suspension and reduction of working hours produced as a result of COVID-19, as it reduces processing times. The companies affected are also exempted from paying Social Security contributions and workers are given access to unemployment benefits.

Speeding up procedures for the suspension and reduction of working hours

Effective from 18-1-2020 and while the extraordinary situation derived from COVID-19 is in place, measures are established to speed up the processing of contract suspensions and reductions in working hours that have their direct cause in activity losses as a result of the Covid-19. The reduction in processing times affects the following procedures:

A. Suspensions of contract and reductions of working hours due to force majeure (art. 22). They are considered as such when they are caused by losses of activity, provided that they are duly accredited as a consequence of COVID-19, including the declaration of the state of alarm, when they imply:

  • Suspension or cancellation of activities;
  • Temporary closure of public premises;
  • Restrictions on public transport and, in general, on the mobility of people and/or goods;
  • Lack of supplies that seriously prevent the continuation of the ordinary development of the activity;
  • Urgent and extraordinary situations due to staff contagion or the adoption of preventive isolation measures decreed by the health authority.

The procedure established in general terms will be followed for the following specialities:

(a) At the beginning of the procedure:

  • The company’s application must be accompanied by a report on the link between the loss of activity as a result of COVID-19, which, where appropriate, will be accompanied by the corresponding supporting documentation;
  • The company must communicate its application to the workers and transfer the previous report and supporting documentation, if any, to the representation of the workers.

b) In the accreditation of the existence of force majeure: it must be verified by the labour authority, whatever the number of workers affected.

c) The resolution of the labour authority:

  • Must be issued within 5 days of the request;
  • the effects occur from the date of the event causing the force majeure.

(d) Prior report by ITSS:

  • must limit itself to verifying the existence of the force majeure alleged by the company;
  • Its request is optional for the labour authority and must be filed within a non-renewable period of 5 days.

B. Suspensions of contract and reductions in working hours for economic, technical, organisational and production reasons. When the causes are related to COVID-19, the following specialties are applied within a generally established procedure:

a) Lack of legal representation of the workers. In the negotiation of the consultation period, two possibilities are distinguished:

  • If a representative committee is set up, it must be made up of the most representative unions in the sector to which the company belongs and will have the right to form part of the negotiating committee for the applicable collective agreement.
  • If no representative committee is formed. The committee must be made up of 3 workers from the company itself, elected in accordance with the general provisions (E art.41.4)

In both cases, the representative committee must be constituted within a non-renewable period of 5 days.

b) Period of consultation between the company and the workers’ representative or the representative commission: it must not exceed the maximum period of 7 days.

c) ITSS report: this is optional and must be submitted within a non-renewable period of 7 days.

In the case of worker cooperatives and labour companies entitled to unemployment protection, the specific procedure established (L42/1996) applies in both cases (economic causes or force majeure).

These specialities do not apply to the employment regulation files for the suspension of employment contracts or for the reduction of working hours initiated or communicated before 18-3-2020 and based on the causes provided in it.

As with all extraordinary measures in the field of employment, this is also subject to a safeguard clause which implies a commitment by the company to maintain employment for a period of 6 months from the date of registration of the contract (RDL 8/2020 add.disp 6).

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