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Is the Christmas basket a worker's right?

"The Christmas basket is one of those gifts that the workers of a company expect to receive at Christmas, but well, the question would be: does the employer have the obligation to make it? Does he have the obligation to give it to the workers for the service rendered? Is it a mere act of liberality or does it constitute an acquired right?"

Well, the Supreme Court has issued two judgments, dated 21 April 2016 and 15 June 2015, in which, modifying its previous doctrine, it maintains that when the Christmas basket is a custom it becomes an acquired right for the worker and that, in accordance with the principles of respect for the most beneficial condition and "pacta sunt servanda", the employer cannot unilaterally suppress or modify it. Therefore, the employer will be obliged to deliver the Christmas basket to the worker, and the latter will be entitled to receive the Christmas basket.

In the case giving rise to the ruling of 21 April 2016 (Social Chamber ruling of the SC, 313/2016 of 21 Apr. 2016, Rec. 2626/2014), the Supreme Court recognises the right of the employees of a merged company to receive the Christmas basket as was done with their previous employer.

After a merger of companies, the staff is informed that the Christmas basket has been abolished due to the difficult economic situation of the company. The class action lawsuit was upheld in the instance declaring the right of the technical and administrative staff to receive the Christmas basket, but rejected by the TSJ of Asturias.

The Social Chamber upheld the ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice and took into account the "unequivocal will of the previous company, which granted the basket every year", concluding that the company that was subrogated in labour relations had to respect the conditions enjoyed by the workers.

It was a more beneficial condition that the workers had been enjoying since the creation of the company, with the only particularity that the workers in the workshop could choose between the basket or a day's vacation because it was thus recognized in the Collective Agreement.

In relation to the requirements for applying the principle of the most beneficial condition, and even though it is not easy to classify a certain benefit as the most beneficial condition, in this case, the Supreme Court does classify it as such because it has been granted by the employer and has persisted over time, with the notes of repetition and habituality.

In contrast to the Supreme Court's decision that the Christmas basket is a more beneficial condition, which cannot be unilaterally eliminated by the employer after a merger, the Honourable Mr. Luis Fernando de Castro Fernández and the Honourable Mr. José Manuel López García de la Serrana formulate Private Vote in front of the cassation appeal, and the Supreme Court's decision that the Christmas basket is a more beneficial condition, which cannot be unilaterally eliminated by the employer after a merger.

The previous case law considered that the delivery of a Christmas basket in successive years was a mere act of generosity, without constituting a more beneficial condition of obligatory respect.

If you need to solve any doubt, do it here.