Warns that the 4-day work week cannot be imposed by law and calls for greater legal certainty in hiring and dismissal


The Foundation for Applied Economics Studies (Fedea) considers it “fundamental” to modify the current design of assistance benefits in order to introduce incentives for searching for a job, so that the perception of the benefit can be made compatible, at least in one way. part, with the collection of a salary.

In a paper prepared by José Ignacio Conde-Ruiz and Jesús Lahera, members of Fedea, on the challenges of the labor market in the coming decades, the organization points out that, given the displacement of workers to unemployment that the technological revolution will imply, Spain will need policies passive “that have strong incentives to search for employment.”

According to Fedea, the loss (or fall) of the subsidy if a job is accepted makes many recipients not want to accept jobs, especially if they are temporary or part-time.

“This would explain why in many tourist areas where there is a high level of unemployment there are problems filling vacancies,” says Fedea, who adds that this situation is also occurring in the domestic sector.

As indicated in the report, in the past these workers found accommodation in the labor market irregularly and without putting their benefits at risk. “Now, thanks to the necessary advances of the Inspection, this possibility is ruled out and their incorporation into the labor market is stopped,” he adds.

Fedea highlights in this report, to which Europa Press has had access, that, according to international evidence, permanently allowing benefits and salaries to be made compatible increases coverage, boosts employment and reduces the structural unemployment rate.

In this sense, remember that an employment incentive has been introduced in the Minimum Vital Income (IMV), since it allows the benefit and salary to be made compatible, but only for one year or at most two, a period that, for Fedea, is “clearly insufficient”, because “no one risks losing the IMV under these conditions”.

Thus, the authors of this study advocate making the perception of the benefit compatible, at least in part, with the salary, so that the benefit can be received as long as income remains below a certain threshold.

If income exceeds the established threshold, the benefit would be gradually reduced or completely suspended. “This measure ensures that people with lower incomes continue to receive the necessary support, while encouraging them to look for work and increase income,” defends Fedea.

In this way, the subsidy would be added to the worker’s salary, becoming a salary supplement. In any case, Fedea emphasizes that in the implementation of this new design there must be monitoring and verification systems to guarantee compliance and avoid abuse or fraud.

The organization denounces in this work that the regulation of retirement in Spain is “drastic, with hardly any gradual transition bridges between the stage of worker and that of pensioner”, and, furthermore, it is, as a general rule, incompatible with paid work .

In his opinion, the classic conception of retirement must be overcome and move towards different retirement models, “much more gradual, flexible and compatible with paid work, employed or self-employed, without income limits.”

Thus, Fedea proposes to regulate partial retirement agreements with incentives, facilitate active retirement and stop capping the additional income of retirees.

At the same time, it requests a new compatible employment contract, with specific rules that, without discriminating by age, take into account that the pensioner is already covered by a public income, “which can rule out, in these cases, compensation for dismissal “.

Fedea considers that there are aspects that could be improved in the agreed labor reform of 2021 that would contribute to the fall in “contractual” temporary employment being accompanied by a real decrease in job insecurity and instability.

“There is a segment of workers who, despite the fact that their contract now has the label of indefinite, is still very precarious when we look at the number of days worked, their salary, the type of working day and the high periods of inactivity they present. “warns Fedea.

Among the improvements to the labor framework proposed by the authors, is that of providing greater certainty and legal certainty in labor contracting, since the new contracting rules introduced by the 2021 reform “are generating problems of legal uncertainty that would need regulatory clarification or a quick jurisprudence”.

These problems, explains Fedea, are concentrated on the border between the new temporary contracts for production circumstances and the different fixed-discontinuous modalities created with the 2021 reform.

For this reason, Fedea demands a new legal intervention, if possible agreed, to clear up some interpretative doubts between both contracts.

For Fedea, greater certainty and legal security is also necessary in the objective economic, organizational, technical or production causes of dismissal, as well as an improvement in the collective termination procedure (ERE), which now counts workers in each work center and throughout the company.

Regarding the collective dismissal procedure, Fedea considers that the European directive should be followed, which establishes that the regulation must revolve around terminations for each workplace and not for the entire company, with the thresholds defined there.

Fedea points out that the labor reform has generalized the use of permanent-discontinuous contracts. In his opinion, it is a “very flexible” contract, which does not guarantee stability to the worker and which is being used instead of traditional temporary contracts. “Many workers end up voluntarily leaving their contract as soon as they get a more stable one,” he points out.

As it is a voluntary leave, these workers are not covered by dismissal costs and for this, Fedea defends, it can be “very attractive” to have an individual account, consisting of the employer, together with the worker, depositing a percentage of the salary in an account, as an advance of a percentage of the appropriate target dismissal cost.

This individual account could be used by the worker when he is objectively dismissed, to invest in his education or training or when he retires as complementary savings for retirement.

Fedea clarifies that these individual accounts would cover only, part or all, the cost of the correct objective dismissal (20 days salary per year) and not the differential with the compensation for unfair dismissal (33 days salary per year worked) or the improvements agreed upon in collective dismissals. , which would always be the responsibility of the company.

Fedea also advocates introducing more flexibility in working time, including reduced days and weeks in specific sectors.

However, it warns that the path towards four-day weekly working days “is not, nor should it be, that of legal imposition”, but rather that of adaptation to business productivity through collective bargaining or individual agreements. with the workers.

“A law that imposed this formula in a mandatory and generalized manner would go against productive heterogeneity, with most likely the undesired effect of reduced salaries in the sectors with the least capacity to adapt to this system,” he warns.