Key employment provisions of Royal Decree Law 15/2020
Published on 27th Apr 2020
Royal Decree-Law 15/2020 of 21 April on urgent complementary measures to support the economy and employment as a result of COVID-19 ("RDL 15/2020") introduces new regulations intended to strengthen and develop the rules previously adopted in employment issues.
Among the measures approved, the following are noteworthy:
1. Extension of the preferential use of remote working and the rights to adapt working hours and reduce working hours
The preferential use of remote working is extended by two months, as well as the right to adapt working hours and reduce working hours. This extension begins after the end of the state of alarm.
2. Recognition of the existence of "partial" force majeure in certain essential activities
The possibility of carrying out an ERTE (temporary employment regulation procedure) by force majeure is extended to companies undertaking essential activities (which are those that, according to the declaration of the state of alarm, must be continued). This possibility will only be applicable to the non-essential part of the activity and to the employees whose functions are not essential.
3. The right to access the social security unemployment benefits is extended to employees that had their employment relationship terminated during the probationary period
The right to access the social security unemployment benefits is recognised to employees whose contracts: (a) have been terminated during the trial period, since 9 March, at the request of the company (and regardless of the reason for the termination of the previous employment relationship), or (b) who have voluntarily terminated their employment contract, since 1 March, because they have a firm job offer that has not materialized as a result of the COVID-19.
4. Extension of social security unemployment benefits for seasonal employees
It is agreed that the extraordinary measures for unemployment protection (as provided for in article 25 of Royal Decree Law 8/2020) will be applied to seasonal employees who render services on uncertain dates and those who perform permanent and periodic work which is repeated on certain dates, and who have had their contracts suspended as a result of the COVID-19.
5. Suspension of the time limits regarding the scope of work of the labour and social security inspectorate
The duration of the deadlines set by officials of the labour and social security inspectorate for the fulfilment of any requirements are suspended (except the time limit for verification procedures and requirements or stop orders arising from situations closely related to the facts justifying the state of alert, or which, due to their gravity or urgency, are indispensable for the general interest), as well as the statutes of limitation for actions to enforce compliance with employment and social security regulations and the time limits relating to the procedures for the imposition of penalties for employment infringements and for the settlement of social security contributions.
6. Reinforcement of control and sanction mechanisms
The conduct of the company consisting of requesting measures, in relation to employment, that are not necessary or have insufficient connection with the cause that gives rise to them, shall be sanctioned when (a) said circumstance can be deduced from the false or incorrect data provided by the company and (b) result in the generation or payment of undue benefits or the application of undue deductions from social security contributions. In this case, the company will have to reimburse the benefits unduly generated.
7. Deferment of social security debts
This deferment may be requested by companies and self-employed persons who do not have another deferment in force. The request shall be made for debts for which the statutory deadline for payment is April to June 2020. The postponement will be made in accordance with the following particularities:
- Interest of 0.5% will be applied
- Applications must be made within the first ten calendar days of each of the statutory deadlines for payment
- The request will cause the suspension of the payment period of the corresponding debts and the debtor will be considered to be up to date with his social security obligations
- The deferment will be incompatible with the moratorium on social security contributions
With these actions, the Government aims to facilitate the recovery of economic activity after the end of the current public health emergency.