The Spanish Government prohibits by law layoffs due to force majeure and other causes due to the coronavirus crisis

It will subsequently review the ERTEs and if it detects fraud it will force to return «up to the last penny» including employee benefits

The Council of Ministers approved this Friday to ban by law the dismissal due to force majeure and for economic, organizational, technical and production causes derived from the health crisis caused by the Covid-19, as announced by the Minister of Labor and Social Economy, Yolanda Díaz, who has specified that this temporary measure will be articulated through a clause that will prevent dismissal in a «very important cast of assumptions».

Specifically, Work explains that dismissal for causes related to the coronavirus crisis will not be considered justified. The time in which the activity of the company is interrupted due to Covid-19 will not be counted in the duration of the temporary contract.

The minister explained that the prohibition of layoffs, which will be effective as of today and will not have retroactive effect, is implemented because companies have already been given an exceptional mechanism such as temporary employment regulation files (ERTEs) to carry out the Relevant temporary adjustments during the health crisis without destroying jobs.

«Nobody can take advantage of this crisis to dismiss», emphasized the minister, who pointed out that companies will not be able to extinguish temporary contracts, but interrupt them, since the crisis is only a parenthesis that will end up happening.

The minister has indicated that the courts will decide whether or not the dismissal is inadmissible if it is appealed, but being clear that a dismissal derived from the health crisis will not be considered justified. «The causes of a dismissal should not be confused with its qualification,» he indicated.

‘EX POST’ REVIEW OF THE ERTEs, WHICH ARE SIMPLIFIED

The Council of Ministers has also approved «to review ex officio» all the ERTEs that are being approved these days so that, if afterwards any type of fraud is observed, including the lack of cause or the lack of need for the ERTE, it will be forced Diaz stressed that companies should return «up to the last cent of a euro» from which they have benefited, including unemployment benefits for the affected workers, who …

In addition, the term of resolution for administrative silence of the ERTEs has been equated to that of express resolution and there will be control mechanisms so that companies whose requests contain false or incorrect data are sanctioned in accordance with current regulations to prevent the fraudulent use of public funds.

All these measures and others are part of a new block of «very ambitious» initiatives of a social nature that, as the Minister of Labor has emphasized, «delve into the social shield» in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.

Within this block of measures, it has also been approved to simplify ERTEs through a «very simple» form to be sent to the Public State Employment Service (SEPE) in which companies will only have to enter a few details (name of the affected workers, DNI, contribution regulatory base and bank account number) that will allow the recognition of public unemployment benefits immediately.

Likewise, the Government has agreed to introduce the legal presumption of being registered as unemployed to speed up the receipt of the benefit. It is established that the start date of the benefit will be the moment in which the suspension has occurred due to force majeure or the date in which the company communicates its decision to the authority, thus guaranteeing the perception from the moment in which lack of activity occurs.

The minister explained that the beneficiaries of the benefit who have children will be paid the corresponding supplement (with one child the maximum benefit is 1,254 euros per month and with two the 1,400 euros are exceeded).

PUBLIC CONTRACTS MAY BE PROCESSED BY EMERGENCY PROCEDURE

The Minister of Labor has also reported that the Council of Ministers has given the go-ahead to the possibility that the governing councils of cooperative members may present ERTEs.

In addition, the Government has approved facilitating public procurement to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, allowing it to be processed through the emergency procedure. The new regulation also includes measures to speed up contracting abroad.

Asked by the employers’ request that the condition of maintaining employment for six months after ERTE be abolished, Minister Díaz has remarked that the regulation that regulates ERTEs normally requires the maintenance of jobs for a year, while which is now only six months.