Spain has to give more permanent contracts to public workers

European justice considers it necessary to tackle abuse surrounding temporary contracts

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permanent contracts

Spain has repeatedly hired too many workers temporarily. This abuse means that hundreds of thousands of employees find themselves in an insecure and therefore vulnerable employment situation for years. The Court of Justice of the European Union wants the country to give these employees permanent contracts.

The CJEU determined this on Thursday, February 22. To this end, the country must adapt its legislation. If Spain does not want to be punished according to European standards, it should convert all those temporary contracts into permanent contracts. This applies even if such conversion would conflict with certain articles of the Spanish Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court.

Background to the ruling

This ruling by Justice follows a request from the Supreme Court of Madrid. It requested an interpretation of the Framework Agreement on fixed-term work. This Framework Agreement is included in the Annex to Directive 1999/70. This was prompted by a case involving three employees of various public organizations in the Madrid region.

These employees had consecutive temporary contracts for many years. In two cases since 1994 and in the third case since 1998. The Supreme Court wondered how effective the framework agreement ultimately is in preventing abuse of temporary contracts or employment relationships in the public sector.

Spanish Legislation Under Scrutiny

The European Court of Justice (CJEU) explains that if a public service does not start a procedure in time to appoint a permanent employee for a position that has been temporarily filled, that employee’s temporary contract must be automatically extended. The Court also says that you cannot say that there are no successive temporary contracts just because an employee is continuously connected to the government service with one temporary contract that continues because no selection procedure has been started. This would go against the intention and effectiveness of the European agreements.

Conclusion of the European Justice

The ruling of the European Justice Department regrets that this situation in Spain “makes it possible to employ workers precariously for years” (the so-called interims). It also deplores “the abuse of such relationships by employers to meet permanent and stable staffing needs.” Spanish legislation therefore does not guarantee that selection procedures will be launched as soon as necessary. The deadlines set in the regulations are also not respected. Therefore, the ECJ concludes that Spanish legislation does not comply with the rules adopted under the European Framework Agreement.

Vulnerable employment situations

A succession of temporary contracts leads to vulnerable employment situations. This leaves employees uncertain about their job security and future. They often miss the benefits and protection that come with a permanent contract. Consider sick leave, pension accrual and dismissal protection. They also cannot apply for a mortgage based on temporary contracts. All this can lead to financial instability and limited career opportunities. As a result, employees are less able to plan for the long term or invest in their professional development.

Also read: Historic agreement to reduce the number of temporary contracts in Spain

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