First meeting to extend the ERTE from September 30 with few details. The Government has the will to extend the ERTE beyond the expiration date, at the end of this month, but it has not specified this Thursday to the unions and employers how long it proposes to extend the files due to the pandemic, explain sources of social dialogue . Nor has it detailed what it wants to do with the aid to companies, or whether the extension will be automatic or not. What the Executive has advanced are two central points of the extension: a commitment to the training of workers who are still inactive in ERTE and to focus on company fraud.
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Training as a priority element in this new extension of the ERTE has been advanced by Minister José Luis Escrivá, at a press conference this morning. The person in charge of the Social Security has explained that some 250,000 workers continue in temporary files and that now “the priority” must be their training to improve their qualifications in the same sector or to redirect their careers if the activities to which they are dedicated are not They reactivate on the same terms as before the pandemic.
Minister Escrivá explained that, after so many months since the outbreak of the coronavirus and with the reduction of restrictions due to the pandemic, the vast majority of companies and workers have returned to activity. Although some sectors have not fully recovered their activity (such as tourism), some companies that remain in ERTE are dealing with “structural” problems, the minister has warned. In these cases, training is a central element to facilitate an exit for the affected workers, who may have to look for another job.
And the ERTE figures reveal another problem, which the Government also wants to tackle as a priority in this extension: the fraud of some companies in ERTE. It has always been a concern of the Executive, but when ERTEs numbered in the hundreds of thousands, it was more complex to detect it. Even so, the Labor Inspectorate has sanctioned more than 5,500 companies for this reason. However, now there are far fewer active files and the audit work is more affordable, so the Government intends to intensify this task.
In the spotlight are all companies, but especially those in sectors that have initially recovered activity and that do not face restrictions. Specifically, there is a fact that worries: about 90,000 workers are in ERTE, José Luis Escrivá has explained, although their companies do not receive any contribution assistance from them. In other words, the company is paying their social security contributions even though they are not working. They are collecting unemployment benefit.
The suspicious situation suggests that some companies may keep their employees at ERTE but force them to work, CCOO leader Unai Sordo warned at a press conference on Thursday. “Some of the people in ERTE are probably working. There are companies with people in ERTE without any bonuses and in sectors where there is activity. A priori, it sounds strange, it gives the impression that companies are forcing staff to work. There are to look at it, “said Sordo.