Pepe Álvarez, general secretary of the UGT union, who is opposed to the government's sectoral focus for ERTE, | Ramón de la Rocha


As negotiations continue to find agreement on an extension to ERTE, the government has offered social security contribution exemptions of more than 80% for employees under ERTE terms and for companies, provided that they can show an as yet unspecified fall in turnover. It is understood that the government is also assuring that there will be flexibility for ERTE being applied because Covid outbreaks force businesses to suspend or reduce their activity.

The government's intention is to focus ERTE on sectors, and it is suggested that a large number of employees (again unspecified) out of the 700,000 who are currently under ERTE terms will continue to benefit from the furlough scheme.

The exemptions and the sectors are the main obstacles to agreement being reached by the government and business/union representatives.

At the end of August, just over 660,000 workers were on ERTE due to force majeure, while a further 149,000 were on ERTE for technical, organisational, economic or productive reasons (ETOP). The two sectors most affected are food and beverage (around 150,000 workers) and accommodation services (just over 104,000).

It remains to be seen which sectors will be the focus of ongoing ERTE protection. The negotiations are continuing, and business and unions have yet to study the latest offer in detail.