This first seminar of the year was led by Daniel Cifuentes and Laura Pérez, partners in the Employment practice area, who analysed the main trends in labour law for 2021, as well as the issues companies will need pay particular attention to this year.
The session was opened by Daniel Cifuentes, who summarised the twenty most significant rulings handed down by Spanish and European courts on various matters such as collective dismissals, temporary workforce restructuring plans (“ERTEs”), severance packages and voluntary resignations, temporary employment and variable remuneration. Laura Pérez then delved into the top three most important labour rulings from the past few months. Firstly, Pérez analysed the Spanish High Court’s recent ruling of 30 September 2020 on collective dismissals, which determines the nullity of the collective dismissals due to the implementation of mass agreements by the company with conditions previously rejected by the representative committee.
Secondly, the partner highlighted two Supreme Court rulings on temporary contracts, one from 10 December 2020 and the other from 29 December 2020. The second ruling marks a significant change in the Supreme Court’s case law on work and service contracts, given that in it the Labour Chamber determines a lack of justification for work and service contracts when their essential activity is defined by the commercial links that allow the contract to be performed. Pérez emphasised that both rulings impose significant restrictions on the formalisation of temporary work and service contracts, even casting doubt on the usefulness of this contract for companies in the future.
Lastly, Laura Pérez mentioned a ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union of 11 November 2020. This ruling also represents a significant change to the case law followed by the Supreme Court until now, given that that the European Court ruled that the reference period must be calculated by counting the whole period of 30 or 90 consecutive days following the individual dismissal.
Daniel Cifuentes and Laura Pérez ended the session with an analysis of the latest developments and trends in labour law for 2021. They discussed dismissals and ERTEs during the COVID-19 pandemic, the vaccination of employees, equality plans, the salary register and the controversial Rider Law, among other issues. As regards dismissals during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cifuentes explained that a great number of the rulings handed down on this have found them to be unfair, although it is true that there are contradictory rulings on this matter. On the matter of whether a company can oblige its employees to get vaccinated, the Pérez-Llorca partner indicated that no employee can be obliged to do so, nor can a company request information that proves that an employee has received the vaccine, as these actions would infringe the employees’ right to privacy.
Laura Pérez then explained the current status of the rules on equality plans and the salary register. On the subject of equality plans, the partner indicated that Royal Decree-law 901/2020 has already entered into force, which obliges companies with over 100 staff members to implement these plans. As for the salary register, the law, which will enter into force in April, will be applicable to all companies irrespective of the number of employees. This register should include an average of all company salaries, including those of senior management, so that any differences on the basis of gender can be identified.
To conclude the talk, Cifuentes noted that the Rider Law, which is soon to be approved by the Council of Ministers, is based on a traditional approach to defining the employment relationship.