Frequently Asked Questions

The information on this page does not exempt you from consulting the Labor Code and Labor Law in force.

The contents here present may change at any time, in case of doubt, seek legal advice from a specialized professional.

Suspension of the employment contract

What factors determine the suspension or reduction of the employment contract?

The employment contract may be suspended or the normal work period reduced for the following reasons:

  • - The temporary, partial or total impossibility of carrying out the work due to facts attributable to the worker or the employer and with the agreement of both parties;
  • - The need to keep the company viable and to prevent jobs being lost during a business crisis;
  • - The signing of a pre-retirement agreement between the employer and the worker;
  • - In a situation of partial retirement under the terms of special legislation.

Can the employer temporarily reduce normal work periods or suspend employment contracts?

Yes. If market, structural or technological factors, catastrophes or other events have seriously affected the company's normal activity and mean that such measures are vital for assuring the continuing viability of the company and preventing job losses. Interruption of the contract may take the following forms:

  • - Interruption of the activity for one or more normal daily or weekly work periods, which may be rotated between different groups of workers;
  • - Reduction of the number of hours in the normal daily or weekly work period.

However, the employer must write to inform either the workers' committee or the company's inter-union commission or trade union committees representing the workers to be affected by their intention to reduce or suspend the work, giving details of the grounds and criteria, which have led to the suspension of the employment contract. If there is no formal worker representation, the employer should write to inform each of the workers concerned of their intention to reduce or suspend their work, and within five days of receiving the communication, the workers may appoint a representative committee of workers with a maximum of three or five members according to whether the measures affect up to or more than 20 workers.

What are the worker's rights during the time that the employment contract is suspended or reduced?

During the time that the contract is reduced or suspended, the worker has the following rights:

  • - To receive a minimum monthly payment equal to two thirds of their normal gross wage or the minimum monthly guaranteed payment corresponding to their normal work period, whichever one is greater;
  • - To keep all social privileges and social security payments calculated on the basis of their normal wage;
  • - To undertake paid activities outside the company.

When the worker's monthly wage for normal working hours is less than the guaranteed minimum wage, the worker has the right to the latter.

In the case of illness, the worker whose contract has been suspended still has the right to be paid their wages, they cannot receive social security benefit and any that they may be receiving will be stopped.

Normal payment is considered to be the worker's basic wage, seniority bonus and all regular and periodic payments inherent to their work.

What are the employer's obligations?

During the time that the contract is reduced or suspended, it is the employer's obligation to:
- To pay sick pay promptly;
- To make prompt social security contributions for the payments effectively received by the worker;
- Not to distribute profits in any form, particularly withdrawals on account;
- Not to increase the payment of the executive bodies, when social security is being paid to the workers with their sick pay;
- Not to contract new workers or renew contracts for positions which may be held by workers affected by the system of reduction or suspension.

Can employers grant the worker unpaid leave at their request?

Yes. Without prejudice to the provisions in special legislation or in collective agreements, the worker has the right to long periods of unpaid leave (not less than 60 days) to attend training courses held by an educational or vocational training institution, or within a specific programme specifically approved by a competent authority responsible for teaching, or courses in educational establishments.

Employers may refuse to grant leave to attend courses in the situations in the following circumstances:

  • - When the worker has been given adequate occupational training, or leave for the same purpose within the last 24 months;
  • - When the worker has worked for the company for less than three years;
  • - When the worker has failed to apply for leave at least 90 days before the course is to begin;
  • - In the case of a micro or small enterprise where it is not possible to substitute the worker adequately if necessary;
  • - In addition to the aforementioned situations in the previous sub-paragraphs, for workers at management level, executives permanent or qualified staff, when it is impossible to substitute them during their leave without causing serious damages to the activities of the company or service.

Does the worker have the right to return to their job when their leave is over?

Yes. A worker who takes unpaid leave has the right to keep their job. A replacement for the worker may be contracted if they take unpaid leave under the terms laid down for fixed-term contracts.

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