Negotiations continue to agree on how ERTEs will continue beyond May 31. All parties guarantee that the extension is for the moment until September 30, as stated by the Government in its first meeting, but there are still differences on the details, especially in relation to the contribution aids for companies in ERTE, sources of the negotiation explain to elDiario.es. The Ministry of Social Security has put on the table its proposal for exemption percentages in Social Security contributions, which are reduced in some cases. The scheme aims to reward the activation of workers, with greater aid for companies than in those cases in which employees are still suspended, something that the social agents do not like. Especially to entrepreneurs.
The Government proposes to extend the ERTE until September 30
The negotiating parties of this Friday’s social dialogue have begun to continue talking and to meet again next week. It must be remembered that the Government’s proposal presented today is just that, an offer, so its details are still to be debated and changes can be agreed upon, as has happened in the previous agreed extensions.
According to the latest data from Social Security, from May 11, the number of workers in ERTE (temporary employment regulation files) has already dropped from 600,000. Specifically, there were a total of 598,729 people in ERTE on that date. Some 53,500 fewer people than a month ago.
Encourage more activation of workers
Minister José Luis Escrivá has already announced his intention to “encourage” more the activation of workers in ERTE, as happened last summer, which translates into greater savings for companies in the payment of social contributions if they activate employees than the Percentage of exemption that applies if they continue in the files.
The logic of the Ministry is that, if a company has doubts about whether or not to reactivate its employees, the State encourages it with greater help to take this step. In this way, in terms of contribution aid, it is more profitable for the company to activate the worker than to keep him suspended.
Employers and unions, especially the former, have so far rejected this system because they consider that it does not work as a true incentive in many cases, in which companies have no real options to reopen or expand their activity. The social agents therefore warn that the mechanism acts more like a penalty for the companies that are experiencing the worst and that cannot reopen.
Regarding the percentages, they continue in negotiation. The aid raised by the Government for the ERTE of impediment, in which companies cannot open due to sanitary restrictions, are maintained. These exemptions in contributions are currently 100% for companies with less than 50 workers and 90% for those that exceed that level of workforce.
What aid is reduced in the Government’s proposal? The one that affects limitation ERTEs, whereby companies can open but are limited in their activity by the pandemic, and that has an exemption scheme progressively descending month after month. And, the proposed aid to ERTE of the sectors considered most affected, the ‘ultra-protected’, is also reduced, only in cases where they keep employees in ERTE. If the companies in these most affected sectors activate workers, the current contribution aids are maintained (at 85% and 75% depending on the size of the companies).
Regarding the protection of workers in ERTE, the Government’s approach is to maintain it as up to now, with its right to unemployment protection (70% of the regulatory base) and with the so-called ‘counter to zero’ as it is set until the moment.
Inclusion of discontinuous fixed in ERTE
One of the most outstanding challenges in this extension of the ERTEs is the protection of permanent discontinuous workers, among which many personnel from the tourism sector are included. These workers have permanent contracts, but in this modality of discontinuous fixed, so that part of the year they do not work and are only active in their companies when their activity takes place (seasonal). Tourism, as said, will not yet have reached normality at the beginning of the summer due to the pandemic, so it is expected that part of this discontinuous permanent staff will not return to work as every year.
“Progress is being made in the model of incorporation of discontinuous permanent workers to the ERTEs as companies rejoin the activity”, they respond in the Ministry of Labor, where they emphasize that “there is a broad consensus on the matters that concern the Ministry of Labor and Social Economy “. The intention of Trabajo is that these people, many of whom are now receiving extraordinary help, start joining their companies to work and that, if they are not fully operational, that they add them to the ERTEs to to be protected.
Among social agents, especially among unions, there are doubts about how to achieve this and the approach that Labor has presented today, they explain to this medium. Therefore, they have asked the Executive for more clarity in this regard for the next meeting, which will take place next week. The objective, indicate sources of social dialogue, is to agree on an easy mechanism for companies and that does not leave workers without protection who are not called to work.