July 12, 2020

The COVID-19 crisis once again highlights the gap between fixed and temporary



The COVID-19 crisis has once again hit temporary employment hard, which accounts for 73% of the jobs destroyed in March and April, which again highlights the profound duality of the labor market that is given by the different cost of termination and termination of temporary and fixed contracts.

According to the latest data from the Labor Force Survey (EPA), in Spain there are 4.46 million temporary workers, out of a total of 16 million employees, figures that leave the temporary rate at 25%, one point less than at the end of 2019, but which continues to keep Spain at the top of Europe.

In them, according to data detailed by Social Security, the destruction of employment in the first COVID coup has been primed.

Thus, from March 12 to 31, 613,250 temporary jobs in Spain were destroyed compared to 181,905 permanent ones.

In total, those March days, 836,603 jobs were destroyed in Spain (the rest belongs to other categories such as training), so that 73% was temporary.

In April, the figures are more striking, 59,080 temporary jobs destroyed compared to 21,118 new permanent ones created. That is, all the job destruction was in storms.

In both cases, the total figures for job destruction rose (898,822 in March and 49,074 in April when other regimes were included). And in total, of all the jobs destroyed these months, the weight of the storm increased to 76%.

“The ERTE have protected the undefined, there are few storms in these files,” explains the Fedea researcher and professor at the Autonomous University Marcel Jansen, who points out that there are “few incentives” to include them in this tool as opposed to allowing extinction their contracts.

Likewise, the employment maintenance clause for companies in the ERTE agreement does not affect temporary contracts that expire due to the expiration of the agreed time or the performance of the work or service that constitutes its purpose, or when it cannot be carried out immediately the activity under contract.

Jansen, who sees the reaction to protect workers more quickly and appropriately this time, also recalls that the labor market has entered this crisis in worse conditions than in 2008.

“Furthermore, Spain has failed to solve the problem of duality that has dragged on for decades,” adds Jansen, who advances that we will relive the damage that this situation does, especially among the youngest.

Every month, 90% of contracts signed in Spain are temporary and one in four, around 27%, lasts less than a week.

It is precisely these very short-term contracts that have been gaining weight in the last decade, going from representing 17% in 2009 to 27% with special relevance in the hospitality industry.

“There is a higher rate of temporary employment and bias, and the average seniority of workers is lower in the sectors most affected by COVID-19,” the Bank of Spain recalled this week in a report warning of difficulties in relocate for those affected.

Looking ahead, and to try to solve this situation, Jansen proposes more flexibility within temporary contracts so that the link with the company can be more stable.

“A great pact is urgent in the face of precariousness,” said the Secretary of State for Employment, Joaquín Pérez Rey, at the press conference to assess the employment data for April.

“This pandemic has once again demonstrated the absolute failure of this model. It is hard to imagine what it would have been like this month without the great collapse that temporary work has led to in this crisis,” he concluded.

Among the objectives of the Government, before the outbreak of the pandemic, it was pointed out the need to simplify the contracting modalities so that the ordinary contract is indefinite and the temporary ones have better justified causes.

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