Spain's employment minister, Yolanda Díaz, said on Wednesday that the latest extension to the ERTE furlough scheme will maintain the current protection for businesses and employees and involve some changes in order to streamline its administration.
Díaz explained that there will be no alteration to the "ultra-protected" sectors, including those most recently incorporated within the framework of the plan for hospitality and retail, e.g. drinks' wholesalers; botanical gardens, zoos and nature reserves; and gambling businesses.
She added that companies will still have to commit to maintaining employment for six months if they take advantage of ERTE. A ban on dismissal, dividend distribution and overtime working will continue. ERTE, Díaz stressed, is supported by public funds. In return for workers having to "sacrifice" 30% of salaries, employers have to maintain employment. Moreover, she said, "it would not make sense" to dismiss employees after 14,000 million euros have been spent on preserving 550,000 businesses and 3.4 million workers at the most serious moment of the crisis.
The minister highlighted the fact that employees will continue to receive benefit equivalent to 70% of their base and that protection for employees with 'fijo discontinuo' contracts will continue. She was optimistic that final agreement on the extension will be reached with employers' organisations and unions on Friday. The extension is expected to be to May 31.
In Spain, there are currently 756,000 employees on ERTE terms. These represent 79% fewer than the maximum number in spring last year. The percentage of reinstated workers in Spain is the second highest in European countries where the furlough mechanism operates; in the Netherlands it is 85.7%. Spain is therefore above Germany (72.1%), France (65.5%) and Italy (56.4%).