Christmas hamper in Spain, a vested right? Dismantling myths

At a time where Christmas hampers are gaining prominence over the restrictions that will hinder company lunches and dinners, it is worth asking whether giving it will have a long-term impact on the companies that have decided to offer a little something to their employees.

In recent years, several judgments and articles have addressed the consideration of the Christmas hamper as a vested right or a most beneficial condition for the employees.

We dismantle the myths around this little something that companies have held for years and now seems to have turned into condemnation.

What is a vested right or a more beneficial condition?

A vested right, as interpreted in Spanish case law, is a right granted by the employer, unilaterally or by agreement, to one or more employees that improves the working conditions established in the collective agreement and the Workers’ Statute. Therefore, the company grants a benefit beyond the legal minimums.

A vested right is the one that complies with the following requirements:

  • It improves the employees’ legally-established working conditions
  • It has been granted by the employer by his/her own decision and voluntarily
  • Its persistence in time allows its consolidation
  • The employer maintains it without being obliged to do so.

Therefore, if a more beneficial condition exists, employees are entitled to it, and the employer may not unilaterally remove it without an objective justification.

Are Christmas hampers a more beneficial condition?

The Supreme Court states no general criterion according to which the delivery of a Christmas hamper constitutes a vested right or a more beneficial condition can be established, nor that, on the contrary, when it is generosity from the company.

It will thus depend on each specific case, which will need to be subject to an independent analysis to verify that all the conditions granting the consideration of a vested right are met.

Can the company remove Christmas hampers?

Taking into account the numerous articles circulating on the Internet, one might think this possibility does not exist. However, a detailed analysis of the provisions leads to a different conclusion: the company can remove Christmas hampers.

The mechanisms for its suppression will not be the same. It will depend on the consideration of the hamper, a vested right, or a gift from the company.

In the former case, the removal can happen through a substantial modification of the working conditions. This alternative demands the existence of objective reasons.

In the second case, the company may abolish it unilaterally and without the need for justification.

Christmas hamper is not always a worker’s right; it can also be a mere liberality of the company. The regulation developed by each company will determine its consideration.

Alejandra Sanz

If you need additional information on the right to Christmas hampers or the company regulation on vested rights,

This article is not considered legal advice