Hope for a normal season in 2022. | Josep Bagur Gomila

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In October, 65,796 employees on 'fijo discontinuo' contracts in the Balearics were in active employment. This number was almost three times higher than in October 2020, which was untypical because of Covid, but was also just over 20,000 higher than in October 2019. In fact, it was the highest number ever, the previous record (51,807) having been in 2015.

In all, there are around 90,000 employees who have this type of contract, the overwhelming majority of them working in the tourism sector. The ministry for the economic model, tourism and employment attributes this October figure to a lengthening of the tourism season. The director general for the economic model and employment, Llorenç Pou, points to the fact tourist numbers in October had recovered sufficiently to around 85% of those in 2019.

He adds that the October figure was not due to an increase in the overall number of fijo discontinuo contracts. These had risen between 2015 and 2019, but this hasn't been the case this year. They were working because business activity enabled them to.

For the second consecutive winter, special arrangements are in place to ensure that fijo discontinuo employees can receive full unemployment benefit even if they haven't worked sufficient months to qualify for this. Pou explains that there are some who have qualified in any event. But the figures from social security indicate that the maximum number of active fijo discontinuo employees (90,142) was in July. As the season was late in starting, there were people who were active for no more than two to three months.

Looking ahead to 2022, the situation is expected to return to normal. "Initial forecasts are good, but we still have to be a bit cautious." The government's hope is that the season can get under way promptly in 2022 and that employees in the tourism sector will be able to work the maximum number of months possible.