A Christmas classic returns: companies cannot arbitrarily eliminate Christmas baskets | Economy

It is already a classic of jurisprudence that, accidentally or intentionally, is revived every Christmas. Is about Supreme Court judgments that consider Christmas baskets to be a right acquired by workers that cannot be suppressed without more by the companies, provided that these have been delivering them to the staff for years. For three years, the highest court has been giving the reason to the unions in this matter, although his criteria were not always the same.

On this occasion, the Social Chamber of the Supreme Court has confirmed the right of the 1,600 workers of Fujitsu Technology Solutions in Spain to receive the Christmas basket of 2016, unilaterally suppressed by the company, considering that the repetition in time from its delivery and with extension to the entire workforce, it became the most beneficial condition of the employment contract, without it being taken as an act of mere liberality of the company.

According to the ruling made public on Monday, by the Social Chamber of this body, the suppression for exceptional cause in a specific annuity of the shipment of the basket, which was not fought by the social part of the company, does not eliminate the right to the same. In the case of Fujitsu, the basket was not delivered in 2013 claiming a cost reduction plan, which was not contested by the unions, although they did claim the reinstatement of the shipment as of 2014.

The Supreme explains that to appreciate that the Christmas basket is a more beneficial condition, two conditions must be met: a succession of the acts on which it is based and an unequivocal will of the company as the origin of the aforementioned condition, which improves the legal framework or conventional applicable. And the consequence of its appreciation is the incorporation of it to the mandatory package of the employment contract.

In the case of Fujitsu, with about 1,600 workers throughout the national territory, it has been proven that, from the beginning of its activity until 2012, the company had delivered the indicated basket to the affected workers – with the exception of the year 1997, when it was replaced by a gift voucher. It was in 2013 when the company decided to suppress such delivery, without such decision being challenged, according to the judgment under appeal. Since then, delivery has not been made; noting, however, that, in the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, the trade union representations requested its establishment.

The Supreme Court therefore values ​​that said basket has been delivered from the origin of the company's activity without a continuity solution until 2013, "and it cannot be denied that in that act of the company the defining notes of the controversial condition are appreciated more beneficial Not only is it a regular, constant and repeated delivery every year, but it is clear that such an offer was made with full and conscious will to benefit the workers of the workforce, all without exception or conditioning ", the magistrates point out.

"The distribution of the Christmas basket – adds the sentence – is not produced by a mere tolerance of the company, since it is clear that, given the volume of the workforce, that delivery implies an economic outlay that necessarily has and must be approved and financed, and, in addition, it requires a certain organization and logistics activity – the company must determine the number of baskets it needs, acquire them in the market and organize its distribution or the system by which the baskets arrive at the hands of each of Workers".

Sentences for and against

It is not the first time that the Supreme Court has pronounced in this regard, since on four other occasions it has also ruled that Christmas baskets with a working condition that is incorporated into the employment contract of the affected workers and, therefore, obliges to the creditor of said benefit – the company that employs them – as part of the content of said contract.

Last November, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the workers of the Galician cable company R, which ran out of Christmas basket in 2017 coinciding with the absorption of society by Euskaltel. The ruling condemns the company to enter the 190 workers who were in that year on staff 60 euros in compensation. In addition, the committee understands that the same will happen with that of 2018, and also with that of this 2019.

In another ruling of July 2018, the Supreme obliged the company to call center Transcom to distribute among its employees the Christmas basket of 2016, which after almost a decade the company decided to cancel and replace it with a cocktail. And that the last basket they received, in 2015, consisted of a panetone cake of 4 euros worth.

A third sentence of 2016, forced the company Mecalux to restore the Christmas basket of 2012, valued at 66 euros, for the technicians and administrative staff of the Gijón company Esmena, with which it had merged in 2011.

However, as the Supreme Court's own judgment published today, a general criterion cannot be established for all cases according to which the delivery of the basket always constitutes a right acquired as a more beneficial condition, or, on the contrary, a mere company liberality, so that the result of judicial solutions can be diverse according to the characteristics and proof of the circumstances of each case. This happened in a 1994 judgment by Citibank.


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