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What rights do workers have in the face of the coronavirus?

Labor Law
What rights do workers have in the face of the coronavirus?

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, many workers have doubts about their labor rights and about the measures that their companies are taking, or may take in the coming days. What are Temporary EREs (ERTEs)? Can companies compel workers to take vacations? Can they force workers to telework? Do companies have to equip workers who work at home with materials? These and other questions will be resolved in this new post.

Can companies compel workers to take vacations?

As our labor lawyers comment, companies cannot compel workers to take vacations in a certain period of time. Thus, companies cannot take advantage of the current crisis in the country due to the coronavirus, to force workers to take vacations.

Article 38 of the ET establishes the vacations in a minimum duration of 30 calendar days a year in remuneration and without being replaced by financial compensation. Holidays can also be agreed through a collective agreement or individual employment contract.

When the company draws up the annual vacation calendar, it must notify the worker, at least two months in advance, of the exact dates that the workers may take vacations. This calendar must be notified to the worker.

Another option is for the worker to propose the exact dates on which the vacation will be taken, in which case the company may or may not accept it. Holidays must be decided by mutual agreement between worker and company, in case there is no agreement on the date, the competent jurisdiction will decide the date.

Therefore, neither the worker can impose his vacation nor can the company, with the consequences that both entail, so that both company and worker must agree and establish the date of the vacation.

But in no case will workers be forced to take vacations at this time due to the coronavirus crisis.

What are temporary EREs?

The Temporary Employment Regulation Expenditure (ERTE) is a temporary authorization for a company through which you can suspend one or several employment contracts for a certain time. Therefore, through an ERTE, companies will be exempt from paying workers wages.

As our lawyers specializing in labor law tell us, before an ERTE, workers will continue to be linked to the company, but they will not receive any salary from the company, nor will they generate the right to vacations or extraordinary payments.

Before a Temporary ERE, will the worker be part of the company?

Before a Temporary ERE, the company will have to continue to keep the workers registered with Social Security and pay 100% of the contributions. Therefore, workers will continue to be part of the company, although they will not receive wages from the company.

Are workers required to telework?

Workers have no obligation to work at home or telecommute, unless there is a prior agreement between workers and the company about the work to be done. Thus, in the event that a company decides to close its business, workers may refuse to work from home, and the company is also required to pay the worker's monthly salary as if he were working.

Therefore, in most cases, if the workers are teleworking from home it is at their will.

Does the company have to provide the necessary material to telework?

The company must provide the necessary material to telework or work at home, except that there is a prior agreement between workers and the company on the way and materials to be used in teleworking. Thus, in principle, and only in the event that there is no prior agreement between the company and the workers, the company will provide the laptop and other materials to the workers to work at home.

Can workers refuse to go to work at the company to avoid the spread of coronavirus?

Workers may refuse to go to work at the company to avoid the spread of coronavirus, as long as the company does not comply with sufficient safety and / or protection measures to protect the workers who are in the company from the risk of spread of the coronavirus. And so is established in article 21 of the occupational risk law, a provision that may be used by workers in the event that the work activity involves a serious and imminent risk to their life or health.

Contact us, and our lawyers specializing in labour law will study your specific case. 

At Forcam Abogados we have offices in Barcelona, Madrid and Reus.