The Royal Decree Law 8/2020 of 17 March on urgent extraordinary measures to deal with the economic and social impact of COVID-19 was published in the Official State Gazette, number 73, of 18 March 2020.
The following are the most important workplace measures agreed by the Government:
Article 6 states the Right to Adapt Working Hours and the shortening of the working day which aims to facilitate remote working and reconciliation in order to take care of relatives.
Speeding up and modifying the process of authorising RSTEs to retain jobs when the health crisis is over.
1. Reason for Force Majeure: Article 22. The suspension of contracts and the reduction of the working day which have a direct affect on the loss activity as a result of the different government measures put in place as a result of COVID-19, including the declaration of a state of emergency, which forces the suspension or cancellation of activities, the temporary closure of public places, public transport restrictions and, in general, the movement of people and goods, the lack of supplies which seriously affects the normal proceedings of such activities, or in emergency and extraordinary situations due to the contagion of the workforce or the adoption of preventative isolation measures enforced by the health authority, which are duly authorised and shall be considered as the result of a force majeure situation.
The summarized procedure:
a) The process will begin upon request by the company, which will also come with a report about the link to lost activity as a result of COVID-19, as well as, where appropriate, the corresponding supporting documentation. The company must inform employees of the request and transfer the internal report and supporting documents, if any, to the representatives of these workers.
b) The existence of force majeure, as a reason behind the suspension of contracts or the reduction of the working day stated in this article, must be confirmed by the labour authority, regardless of how many workers that are affected.
c) The decision of the labour authority will be announced within five days of the request, following a report, where appropriate, from the Labour and Social Security Inspectorate and shall be limited to ascertaining the existence, where appropriate, of the force majeure alleged by the company with the decision on acting upon measures to suspend contracts or reduce working hours, which will take effect from the start date of the situation which caused the force majeure.
d) The report of the Labour and Social Security Inspectorate, whose request will be optional for the labour authority, will be issued within a non-renewable period of five days.
2. Article 23. Based on the assumption that it is decided that the business needs to suspend contracts or reduce the length of the working day for productive, technical and organisational reasons relating to COVID-19, the following special measures will be applied, with respect to the procedure which is set out in the regulations governing these proceedings.
The procedure is the following:
a) In the case that staff have no legal representation, the committee representing the workers for the negotiation of the consultation period shall be made up of the most representative trade unions of the sector to which the company belongs and shall be entitled to be part of the negotiating committee for the applicable collective agreement. The committee will be made up of one person from each of the unions that meet these requirements, with decisions being taken by the corresponding representative majorities. If this representation is not formed, the committee will be made up of three workers from the company itself, elected in accordance with the provisions of Article 41.4 of the Workers’ Statute.
In any of the aforementioned scenarios, the representative committee must be formed within a non-extendible period of 5 days.
b) The consultation period between the business and the workers’ representation or the representative committee outlined in the previous point must not extend a maximum period of seven days.
c) The report from the Labour and Social Security Inspectorate, whose request is optional for the labour authority, shall be issued within a non-extendible period of seven days.
Article 28: The validity of the measures of this type of “RSTEs of Coronavirus” will be extended for as long as this situation lasts.
Article 24: Exemption from social security contributions for force majeure RSTEs (not for objective causes). 100% in companies with less than 50 workers, 75% in the rest.
Also included in the RSTEs processing as a result of force majeure is the term “report” (equivalent to “memory”), in addition to the request.
The suspension shall have retroactive effect from the event causing it.
Extraordinary measures in terms of unemployment protection. Article 25. In the event that the suspension of contracts or the reduction of the working day for organisational, productive reasons or force majeure is decided for the business, under the protection of Article 47 of the revised text of the Workers’ Statute Law, based on the extraordinary circumstances regulated by this Royal Decree-Law, the Public State Employment Service may adopt the following measures:
1- The recognition of the right to receiving unemployment benefits, regulated by Title III of the revised text of the General Law on Social Security, approved by Royal Legislative Decree 8/2015 of 30 October, to the workers concerned even if they do not have the minimum period of contribution required to do so.
2- To not count the time in which the unemployment benefit is received at the contributory level that brings about the immediate cause of the aforementioned extraordinary circumstances, for the purpose of consuming the maximum periods of perception established.
The measures outlined in paragraph 1 shall apply to the workers concerned whether or not, at the time of the employer’s decision, they had a previous entitlement to unemployment benefit or allowance suspended or did not have the minimum period of contributory employment to qualify for contributory benefit, or did not receive previous unemployment benefit.
A new right to contributory unemployment benefit will be recognized, with the following specialties regarding the amount and duration.
a) The regulatory base of the benefit will be the result of computing the average of the bases of the last 180 days of contributions or, failing that, of the period of time immediately prior to the legal situation of unemployment, worked under the protection of the employment relationship affected by the extraordinary circumstances that have directly caused the suspension of the contract or the reduction of the working day.
b) The duration of the benefit shall be extended until the end of the period of suspension of the employment contract or temporary reduction of the working hours for which it is provided.
Specific benefits for discontinuous, part-time and cooperative workers in the field of unemployment benefits.
Automatic extension of unemployment benefits
Extraordinary benefit for the cessation of activity of self-employed workers. Article 17.
Self-employed workers whose activities are suspended as a result of the state of emergency for the management of the health crisis caused by COVID-19 or when their turnover in the month prior to that in which the benefit is requested is reduced by at least 75% with the average turnover of the previous six-month period, they will be entitled to the extraordinary benefit for cessation of activity, during the period of one month or until the last day of the month in which this alarm state ends – if it continues for more than one month. The amount of the benefit will be 70% of the regulatory base, provided that it meets the following requirements:
– To be affiliated with the company and on the records, on the date of declaration of the state of alarm.
– If their activity is not directly suspended, they must prove that their turnover has been reduced by at least 75% compared to the previous six months.
-To keep up with social security payments.
Transitional Provision 1: RSTEs started before today are governed by their previous regulations.