Shopping streets are all but deserted. | Teresa Ayuga

Some 400,000 employees in the Balearics will be laid off temporarily as a consequence of coronavirus. As there is an average of 500,000 people registered with social security, the UGT union says that this layoff affects 80% of the islands' labour market.

ERTE temporary layoff regulations are being adopted in virtually all sectors of the regional economy, and there is naturally a great deal of uncertainty as to how long these will apply. The majority of businesses in the Balearics are in the services sector - tourism, retailing and hospitality are all but totally shut down for the time being.

With it being unclear as to when the tourism season might get under way, employers have been unsure about whether they should include employees with fijo discontinuo contracts in the ERTEs, regardless of whether these employees had been called back to work or not. The Spanish government has now given clarity on this, so these contracts will be covered, while the decree of emergency measures passed by the government means that employees affected by an ERTE cannot be laid off within a period of six months once they have returned to work.

The small to medium-sized businesses association Pimem wants the regional government to ask the Spanish government to reformulate this six-month period. The association says that regional characteristics and the employment contracts which are therefore issued are not being taken into account. In the Balearics there is a high level of seasonality, with many companies operating primarily in summer months.

Transport businesses in the Balearics will also be raising this issue with the regional government. From their point of view and that of other highly seasonal business sectors, if activity resumes in mid-summer, it will still finish by November. And by then, six months will not have elapsed.