Companies in Spain to help pay for retraining of the temporarily unemployed

by Lorraine Williamson
retraining of ERTE staff

MADRID – The Seguridad Social is negotiating with employers‘ and employees’  organisations about a contribution from employers towards the costs of retraining for employees. This will involve companies that still want to make use of the ERTE scheme after September.  

These so-called Expedientes de Regulación Temporal de Empleo are a work protection mechanism of the government through which employees are temporarily fired and therefore do not lose their jobs permanently. The scheme was extended several times by the government during the corona crisis. 

For companies that want to continue their ERTE schemes from 1 October, a consideration will apply from then on. They must contribute to the retraining costs for their temporarily unemployed employees. According to social partner sources, this is the plan of Social Security Minister José Luis Escrivá. According to these sources, the government would take care of most of the retraining. Exactly what this distribution will look like remains to be seen from the upcoming negotiations. 

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Not a good plan for social partners 

Employers’ organisations have already informed the Spanish government that it is pointless to ask companies in financial distress to pay for the retraining of their temporarily unemployed workers. The unions are also not necessarily in favour of the minister’s new plan. CCOO Secretary-General Unai Sordo thinks the proposed link between being temporarily unemployed and retraining is premature. Furthermore, he considers it unlikely the government also has a coherent training plan ready for the 4 million registered unemployed. According to Sordo, such a measure would only be effective if the ERTE were not an exceptional but a structural arrangement. 

Will ERTEs be structural? 

That is in fact also the idea of ​​Minister Escriva and State Secretary Israel Arroyo. They are looking for a way in which employers can contribute, should the work protection mechanism continue to exist after the corona pandemic. According to sources around the negotiating partners, the companies may be reimbursed for the contribution from the government after completing the additional training. 

Digital Skills 

The further training program must take place between October 1 and June 30. All wholly or partially temporarily unemployed must then participate in this. At the end of July, there were 331,486 according to data from the Seguridad Social. Minister Escrivá announced last week that the additional training will mainly focus on increasing digital skills. 

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