“Temporary hiring may not exceed fifteen percent of the annual workforce of each company.” This is how forceful the document that the Ministry of Labor put on the table yesterday that negotiates the labor reform is expressed and that includes important measures to tackle the duality of the market and combat the scourge of temporality. Yolanda Díaz’s proposal, which continues to be negotiated with social agents, has run into rejection of employers, as they assure that it does not respect the many needs of the heterogeneous Spanish business fabric. Union support would not be clear at the moment either.
The text, to which ABC has had access, establishes that the total workforce must be calculated by adding the number of contracts in force as of December 31, regardless of their modality, and those that have expired. And insists that only temporary contracts can be justified in two situations: when there is an “occasional and unpredictable increase in business activity that cannot be attended to with the usual staff of the company” and to “replace a person with the right to reserve his job”.
The president of the main association of freelancers, Lorenzo Amor, has already shown his rejection: «They continue to think that there are only large companies. Just to remember, in Spain almost 90% of companies have less than 5 workers and not the other way around. This measure is absurd when in a company with 5 workers each worker is 20%. With 7 jobs, it seems that you can have a temporary one .. », criticized on his Twitter account. “Reducing temporary employment should be everyone’s goal, but it is not achieved with caps that penalize the self-employed and small companies,” he concluded.
The truth is that the Spanish labor market is on a temporary path that Brussels has called to put an end to. After the harsh impact that the financial crisis had on employment, the recovery made it possible to absorb part of the jobs destroyed, but it was done without increasing their quality, an imbalance that has worsened in recent years and especially in the pandemic. The Covid increased the hiring of health workers and social services personnel and these new jobs were mostly done for a limited time, which caused the existing gap between temporary and permanent jobs to be more noticeable in the public sector, where the rate touches 30%, almost four times above the goal set in 2018 and an unprecedented record.
Analyzing the economy as a whole, Spain registers twice the temporality than the average, with a rate close to 20%, according to data published by Eurostat, a percentage that the EPA for the fourth quarter of 2020 raised to almost 25%. In other words, of every one hundred contracts that are signed in Spain, 25 are temporary, far from neighboring countries such as Germany (9.2% in 2019), France (12.3%) and Italy (11.5%).
For this reason, tackling temporality has become one of the priority reforms imposed by Europe in exchange for European funds. Díaz has insisted on several occasions that the reform must be ready before the end of the year. In fact, it was transferred by the technicians sent from Brussels last week to analyze the progress of this process that, according to sources present at the meetings held, showed their concern about the drift that the reform proposed by Díaz could take. The same sources point out that the Brussels technicians insisted on the need for legal changes to be made with consensus, to ensure their duration over time and avoid social rejection, and that they maintain the spirit of the reform promoted by the PP with Minister Fátima Báñez.
It is not the first time that Brussels has shown its concern in this regard and, in fact, it already made its position clear as soon as the European funds were unblocked for Spain. In the working document of the Commission services that was published when the disbursement was released, it was specified that the reform of the labor market should be carried out «With full respect for social dialogue and following a comprehensive approach that balances the need for flexibility and security in the labor market, in support of a job-creating recovery. Then, in a footnote, the Commission went a step further: ‘The most recent report on Spain recalled the need to preserve the elements of labor market reforms introduced in 2012-2013 which have played an important and recognized role in driving the job-creating economic recovery that began in 2014 ”.
However, Díaz’s proposals still fail to achieve the necessary consensus. The document advances in its strategy to increase the power of the unions and proposes that they should be informed about the temporary employment in the company each January as well as the plan to comply with the new limits. “The companies must inform the legal representation of the workers, during the month of January (…) and they will present a concrete proposal of transformations or hiring to be carried out to comply, at least, with the applicable indefinite hiring percentage”.
In addition to the temporary nature of the companies, the document launched yesterday proposes changes for the temporary work agencies, which allows making contracts available for temporary activities but provided that the employment relationship of the person transferred is arranged for an indefinite period of time. Likewise, changes are proposed in the training contracts, in the construction work fixed and a new definition of the Employment Sustainability Mechanism.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism