A sentence of the Supreme Court launches a balloon of oxygen to the companies when facing the rises of the Minimum Interprofessional Salary. The social judges have interpreted in a sentence that, if the agreement does not say otherwise, a company can catch up with the increases in the SMI by adding both the previous amount and the seniority supplements that the workers received. Companies, therefore, are not required to add these three-year periods to the SMI.
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The social judges have resolved the case of the workers of the centers for the labor insertion of people with disabilities in Catalonia. Their agreement, in force between 2013 and 2017 and extended since then, established that the compensation of workers was made up of the 2016 SMI (655.20 euros) in addition to the three-year seniority bonus. When in 2019 the SMI rose to 900 euros per monththe scenario changed and the method to reach this new minimum consisted of adding the 655 of 2016, the increase corresponding to the Multiple Effect Public Income Indicator (IPREM), the triennia of the workers and the money that was missing to reach 900 euros. Not the 900 euros of the SMI in addition to the triennia.
The unions brought this matter before the Justice, with a claim in which they demanded that the seniority supplements not enter that sum and be paid separately. After several years of litigation, the Associació Empresarial D'Economía Social (AEES) has won the game and the social chamber of the Supreme Court has endorsed this calculation that allows companies to adapt to the progressive increases in the SMI but using the supplements old to cushion the impact as long as the agreement does not state otherwise.
The judges have rejected in recent days the appeal of CCOO and UGT against the ruling of the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia that endorsed this system. For the judges, a reading of the rules at stake leaves no doubt that this is the correct interpretation of the agreement. "The literalness of the transcribed rules fully supports the solution of the lower court ruling that we share," says the Supreme Court. This option also ensures that workers could receive their new salary of 12,600 euros per year after the increase. If they had listened to the unions, say the judges, "the review of the SMI would have a multiplier effect on all collective agreements, whose base salaries were lower than the SMI."
In practice, equating the SMI to the base salary, according to the Supreme Court, would leave a powerful tool for the Government that allows the administration to bypass collective bargaining: "It would be the Government, who would decide, in the end, the amount of the salaries basis or per unit of time, regardless of what is agreed in collective agreements or employment contracts," explains the Supreme Court.
In this case, moreover, the collective agreement of the sector that affects these workers does not prevent doing so. "It does not prohibit the compensation and absorption of the SMI increases, since its simple reading allows us to conclude that it only affects the revaluations of the collective agreement itself," the sentence says about this.