The Labor Inspectorate continues to sanction fraud in ERTEs due to COVID. Two companies of the Noatum group, a multinational maritime and port services, have been fined 6,251 euros for each worker who employed more hours than those stipulated in the ERTE for the reduction of working hours in which they were immersed, after the complaint filed by CCOO. In total, the sanctions amount to about 37,500 euros for one company and another 43,700 for another. In addition, companies are required to repay unemployment benefits received by workers.
This is the extension of the ERTE and the aid for the self-employed until May 31
CCOO has reported this Monday of the two acts of infringement, against the companies Noatum Holdings and Noatum Maritime, for ordering work hours above those agreed in the ERTE for the reduction of working hours that both companies used due to the pandemic. The Labor Inspectorate found this violation in the case of “13 workers, although there were more,” says Cristina López Gómez, coordinator of the Sea sector at FSC-CCOO Catalunya. Six are employed at Noatum Holdings and the remaining seven at Noatum Maritime.
Noatum sources respond to elDiario.es that the multinational negotiated a partial ERTE with the union representation of the group’s companies in Spain, “which lasted from April 15 to July 15, 2020” and that “it was detected that indeed a 1% of the workforce affected by the ERTE had worked longer than the agreed time “, but they emphasize that the” clear and precise instruction of the company was not to work more hours than planned “.
The multinational will abide by the sanctions of the Inspection, without presenting an appeal, indicate the same sources. “Grupo Noatum reached a compensation agreement with these people and the legal representatives of the workers, as well as the assumption of this situation for all purposes,” they maintain.
Notice before the complaint
CCOO’s version is different. From the union they explain that they denounced the companies before the labor authority after the workers’ representation warned Noatum that they could not work more hours than those communicated to the SEPE. “Which is something that everyone already knew”, highlights Cristina López Gómez. After the notice, the company sent an official statement in which it maintained that the workforce had to comply with the hours established in the ERTE, but the Inspection found that in practice this abuse continued to occur, with longer working hours of several employees included in the files.
Therefore, the inspectors drew up infraction records against both companies for employing these 13 workers at a time when they were affected by ERTE. The companies did not notify the SEPE of changes in the reduced working hours of the employees, nor did they remove them from the files, as requested by the representation of the workforce.
“It was decided to report from the CCOO, because the companies were warned that this could not be done and it was ignored,” says Cristina López Gómez, who recalls that the union intends that the ERTE are only used as long as necessary, that companies do not take refuge in them to reduce their labor costs. The State pays in the ERTEs for the coronavirus almost all of the social contributions that companies should pay and workers are protected with the unemployment benefit, which represents 70% of their regulatory base.
The sanction imposed is 6,251 euros for each worker, the minimum amount possible for this type of infraction, considered very serious in the Law on Infractions and Sanctions in the Social Order, LISOS. The Government legislated during the pandemic to sanction this type of abuses in the ERTE, by sanctioning the practice of “making statements, or facilitating, communicating or recording false or inaccurate data that give rise to workers improperly obtaining or enjoying benefits”.
In very serious cases like this, the company incurs an offense “for each of the workers who have fraudulently requested, obtained or enjoy Social Security benefits,” states LISOS.
Also pay back unemployment benefits
As regulated by the Government, the Labor Inspectorate demands from the companies of the Noatum group the amounts unduly received by workers in unemployment protection, since it does not appreciate fraud of the employees affected by this abuse.
The CCOO representative emphasizes that in cases like this, of crisis and uncertainty, workers are often afraid of not getting to the job that the companies ask of them or not finishing their tasks.
“The companies will have to return the unemployment benefits of each worker to the SEPE and, most importantly, they are obliged to pay full wages to these workers from the first day they worked hours, that is, it disables them from the Initial ERTE “, underlines CCOO in its statement.