Since the labor reform has reduced temporary work and increased permanent work, the Popular Party is insisting on downplaying the employment figures. Among his arguments: that the Government is "make-up" the unemployment statistics. The president of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, insisted on this last point on Thursday. However, Labor and Social Security statistics – those that supposedly “make up” and make the unemployed invisible – have not changed. The discontinuous fixed lines that are inactive do not appear as unemployed in the SEPE, although they can do so in certain cases in the EPA of the INE, in the same way that happened during the mandates of the PP.
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The discontinuous fixed are permanent workers in intermittent activities, who do not have work all year. For example, jobs linked to the school year, agricultural seasons, tourist activities, etc. When there is activity, the discontinuous permanent workers have their active contracts and appear in the Social Security affiliation statistics as "employed". That is, as affiliated workers with employment.
If there is no work, the companies suspend the contracts of these employees until there is work again and activate them in what is known as a "call". During the time of inactivity, the discontinuous permanent workers do not appear as "employed" affiliated workers in the Social Security statistics, they recalled this Thursday in the Ministry of José Luis Escrivá.
And how are they computed in the statistics of the Ministry of Labor, which is the one that measures registered unemployment? They are not included as registered unemployed by the SEPE, although on occasions they may be receiving an unemployment benefit, as was not done at the time the PP governed.
The unemployed for the SEPE are people without a job and actively looking for work. The discontinuous fixed ones that are suspended pending the call compute within the category of "unemployed applicants" (DENOS), they explain in the Ministry of Labor. Without any change, just as they did in previous decades, as Vice President Yolanda Díaz recalled in Congress.
In the EPA statistics they can sometimes appear as unemployed, as the INE communication manager explains in this Twitter thread.
Brief thread to clarify how the EPA collects the #INE the discontinuous fixed
First, I remind you that the EPA methodology follows that established by the International Labor Organization and the EUROSTAT guidelines by virtue of the regulations that regulate it.
— Donald 📊📈📰 (@donald_dpm) June 3, 2022
The INE's Active Population Survey measures unemployment in a different way and, once it detects a permanent discontinuous person who is not working, it considers him/her to be 'not employed'. And from there, it classifies you as 'unemployed' or 'inactive' “depending on the answers to the EPA questions on active job search and availability to join a job if you find one”.
Again, the statistical procedure of the INE is maintained, it has not been changed by the Government after the labor reform.
Not all inactive discontinuous fixed lines are out of work
But beyond the fact that the statistics on how the discontinuous fixed are computed have not been modified, even Feijóo's arguments that try to compute all the discontinuous fixed without activity as unemployed are not rigorous.
Feijóo is happy about the unemployment data but accuses the Government of "make up" the statistics: "There are more than half a million unemployed who do not count in the unemployment figures because it is now called discontinuous fixed. What has been done is precarious indefinite" https://t.co/rscwNdtsL3 pic.twitter.com/nEx7kcowM0
— RTVE News (@rtvenoticias) June 2, 2022
“When the statistics are already made up, it is very difficult to make the comparison”, Alberto Nuñez Feijóo affirmed yesterday after unemployment will fall for the first time in 14 years of three million people. The president of the PP estimated at "more than 500,750 unemployed who do not count in unemployment because they are now called permanent discontinuous."
However, not always a discontinuous fixed with the suspended contract is not working. You can be employed while in another company waiting for your company to call you, something that happens in many cases. Therefore, it cannot be automatically inferred that all discontinuous fixed are “stopped” in the inactivity stage, as Feijóo suggests.
Nor does every person who is without work after the end of a temporary contract appear automatically as unemployed in the SEPE, as the PP leader seems to suggest. In order to appear as such in the registered unemployment statistics, this person must have been registered as an active jobseeker in the public employment services, something that does not always happen when a contract ends immediately.
The “name change” premise is false
Feijóo's words about "makeup" go hand in hand with another argument from the PP to detract from the increase in permanent employment after the labor reform, which the Galician politician also mentions in the interview: the false premise that the discontinuous permanent contracts are temporary contracts “with another name”. “What was temporary is now called discontinuous fixed,” Feijóo pointed out.
The discontinuous fixed have skyrocketed with the labor reform because it is one of the modalities that the Government has promoted to give stability to hitherto temporary workers. Specifically, to those of activities and jobs for seasons and campaigns, in which there is employment only at certain times of the year.
Thus, the discontinuous permanent ones are encompassing employees who to date rotated with temporary contracts, like Carmen in a hotel in the Balearic IslandsBut that doesn't mean their new contracts are temporary. They are not a mere “name change”as the PP and its president insist, with the increase in labor rights of these employees to those of the rest of indefinite contracts, such as recognition of seniority and severance pay in case the company does not want to call them in the following season or activity campaign.
Given that the procedure for measuring the unemployed and the discontinuous permanent has not changed, what the president of the PP seems to be a "make-up" to make unemployed people invisible was already done during his party's mandate at the head of the country. The only thing that has really changed is that now its use has skyrocketed, as the labor reform promoted this indefinite modality to allow it to be subscribed in more situations of intermittent work.
In any case, labor market experts such as Raül Segarra and Professor Sara de la Rica, consider that now that permanent discontinuous workers are multiplying, it would be convenient to have more information and statistical transparency about their employment situation. For this reason, they consider that the Government could expand the information on this group in times of inactivity and disaggregate them within the "unemployed applicants".