Legal development

Labour Agenda Spain 2024

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    At the end of December 2023, a number of new developments with an impact on labour relations were enacted or came into force, and the year 2024 will also bring with it a number of changes and challenges that we need to keep on our radar.

    Below, we have summarised some of the key issues that professionals from the human resources department and labour relations managers should have on their agenda for 2024.

    New developments already in force or approved

    1. Quotation for trainees

    From 1 January 2024, contributions for trainees will be compulsory. Companies will have to pay contributions for internships carried out by students in their companies, both in the case of training internships and external academic internships included in the corresponding curriculum.

    The amount of the contribution for 2024 will be 2.54 euros for common contingencies (without temporary disability benefit) and 0.31 euros for professional contingencies for each day of work experience. However, the contribution for common contingencies is subsidized to 95%.

    2. Prolongation of the SMI of 2023

    Royal Decree-Law 8/2023 of 27 December established the extension of the Minimum Wage (SMI) of 2023, until the Royal Decree setting the new SMI for 2024 is approved.

    In this respect, the government has announced that it intends to increase the SMI, and in the coming weeks this will be reviewed and published along with the amount of the maximum and minimum contribution bases for 2024.

    3. Plans for the promotion of LGTBI equality

    Law 4/2023, of 28 February, for the real and effective equality of trans people and for the guarantee of the rights of LGTBI people, imposes on companies with 50 or more employees the obligation to implement a plan for the promotion of LGTBI equality before March 2024.

    The specific measures of the plan will be negotiated through collective bargaining and agreed with the legal representation of workers. However, the content and scope of the measures are pending regulatory development.

    4. Employment Inspectorate and Social Security

    During 2024 the Employment and Social Security Inspectorate (ITSS) will continue to focus on assessing gender equality policies, wage equity, and the implementation of measures in companies that support diversity and inclusion.

    On 5 December, Royal Decree 1011/2023 was enacted, which aims to extend the use of electronic media in the ITSS, as well as in the sanctioning procedure before the social jurisdiction and in the settlement of Social Security contributions.

    Some of the most relevant aspects of the Royal Decree are: (i) the implementation of the general principle of electronic processing of procedures and the possibility for the ITSS to develop computer applications aimed at the joint processing of administrative procedures; (ii) the introduction of an alternative notification system for large settlement or infringement proceedings; and (iii) the creation of a new ITSS Electronic Register of Representatives as a means of facilitating the registration of powers of attorney.

    The Royal Decree will enter into force on 6 March 2024 (actions already in progress at that date will continue to be governed by the provisions in force at the time of their commencement).

    5. Digital and procedural efficiency

    Royal Decree-Law 6/2023 of 19 December 2023 approves urgent measures to implement the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, focusing on the public service of justice, civil service, local government and patronage.

    The main measures are focused on:

    (i) Digitalisation and procedural streamlining: the right to interact electronically, the holding of hearings by telematic means, the publication of judicial proceedings by streaming, and the creation of the Justice Folder to consult files and carry out procedures.

    (ii) Promotion of the Electronic Judicial File and the communication of procedural acts by telematic means.

    (iii) The Witness Procedure is incorporated in cases of identical civil and labour claims.

    (iv) Preferential processing for people over 80 years, an increase in the amount of the verbal trial and the generalisation of telematic presence in procedural acts.

    The Royal Decree came into force on 20 December 2023, but the digital efficiency measures will apply from 9 January 2024 onwards, while the procedural efficiency measures, from 20 March 2024. It establishes that 30 November 2025 is the deadline for the technological systems to be fully operational and it sets a period of 5 years to ensure interoperability between systems.

    6. Delay in the retirement age

    From 2024, the ordinary retirement age will be postponed for those with less than 38 years of contributions, who will be able to retire at 66 years and six months. The retirement age for those with 38 or more years of contributions will be 65 years.

    To keep on the radar

    1. Remuneration for parental leave

    Royal Decree-Law 5/2023 of 28 June (known as the Family Law) introduced a new article 48 bis in the WS, establishing the right to unpaid parental leave of no more than eight weeks to look after a son, a daughter or a foster child for more than one year, until the child reaches the age of eight.

    According to the European Reconciliation Directive (EU) 2019/1158 of 20 June, the government has until 2 August 2024 to establish and implement the paid nature of parental leave.

    2. Severance payments: Increase in minimums?

    The European Committee of Social Rights (the "ECSR") has admitted two collective complaints lodged by CC.OO. and UGT (Comisiones Obreras and Sindicato Unión General de Trabajadores) in May and November 2022, respectively, in which they consider the system of compensation for unfair dismissal provided for in Article 56 WS to be contrary to Article 24 of the Revised European Social Charter.

    This Article 24 establishes the right of unjustifiably dismissed workers to adequate compensation or other appropriate redress, while Article 56 WS establishes an objective system of calculation (in general terms, 33 days' salary per year of service, with a ceiling of 24 monthly payments).

    Although it is debatable whether the decisions of the ECSR are directly binding for the Spanish courts, the fact is that there are several judgements that have left the door open to paying additional compensation and there are even courts that are already granting it if certain requirements are met: (i) the compensation for unfair dismissal is low; (ii) there is a clear case of illegality, fraud of law or abuse of rights in the dismissal decision; and (iii) the damage caused is justified.

    Notwithstanding judicial judgements in both directions, for its part, the Labour Minister has expressed her intention to modify the severance pay.

    3. Right to provide allegations before a disciplinary dismissal

    Article 7 of ILO Convention 158 imposes an obligation to offer workers the opportunity to defend themselves against charges brought against them in cases of dismissal related to the worker's conduct or performance.

    However, apart from specific cases (workers' legal representative or trade union delegate), Article 55 WS does not provide for the obligation to process a contradictory file or give to the employee the chance to submit allegations before the disciplinary dismissal.

    In this context, there are contradictory judgements on this matter from different courts, so that this question of undoubted practical implication will have to be followed up.

    4. Reduction of the maximum legal working hours

    The reduction of the working week to 37.5 hours without a reduction in wages is one of the reforms that the Government intends to implement progressively over the next two years. Thus, the aim is to reduce the working week to 38.5 hours a week by 2024 and to reach 37.5 hours a week by 2025.

    5. Extension of parental leave

    Another of the measures that the government has announced that it intends to implement is the increase in leave for the birth of a child, adoption or fostering, from the current 16 weeks to 20 weeks.

    6. Predictable and transparent working conditions

    Directive 2019/1152 on predictable and transparent working conditions should have been transposed in Spain by 1 August 2022.

    Without prejudice to the possible financial penalty that the Court of Justice of the European Union could impose on Spain, the Directive establishes the right of workers to receive more complete information on the conditions under which they will carry out their work:(i) the identity of the parties; (ii) the place of work; (iii) the quality of the job; (iv) the starting date of the contract and its duration; (v) the remuneration; (vi) the normal working hours and (vii) the collective agreements that regulate the worker's working conditions.

     

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