Comparing the collective agreement negotiations in Spain

This article aims to set out the similarities and differences between the collective agreements in Spain, namely those of the procedure of substantial modification of collective working conditions and the collective dismissal procedure.

Articles 41 and 51 of the Labour law regulate the necessary procedures.

In addition, Royal Decree 1483/2012 of October 29 approves the regulations of the procedures of collective dismissal, contract termination and reduction of the hours of the workday.

Below is a comparative table that indicates the similarities and differences between both procedures:

Procedure for substantial modification of collective working conditions Collective dismissal procedures
Grounds for the employer

Economic, technical, organisational or operational.

10 workers where there are less than 100 workers in the company

Economic, technical, organisational, or operational.

10 workers where there are less than 100 workers in the company

Thresholds for workers affected over a 90-day period

10% of workers in companies with 100-300 workers.

30 workers in companies that have more than 300 workers.

10% of workers in companies with 100-300 workers

30 workers in companies that have more than 300 workers.

Start of proceedings  Notification of intending to initiate a process of collective and substantial modification Notification of intending to start a collective dismissal process
Makeup of the negotiating table

7 days following formal notification of intent, or 15 days if the affected work place does not have legal representatives.

Maximum of 13 members

7 days following formal notification of intent, or 15 days if the affected work place does not have legal representatives.

Maximum of 13 members

Consulting Period Clear communication of the start of the negotiating period. Duration not exceeding 15 days.

Clear communication of the start of the negotiating period. Duration not exceeding 30 days or 15 days for companies with less than 50 workers.

Providing simultaneous notice to the Labour Authority and completing the relevant documentation as required by law.

Conclusion With or without agreement. In the latter case, it will take effect 7 days after the notice has been issued.

With or without agreement. If, within 15 days from the date of the last meeting held during the consulting period, the employer does not inform the workers’ representative and the Labour Authority of their decision on the collective redundancy (collective dismissal), the procedure will be voided.

In any case, at least 30 days must have elapsed between the date of the communication of the beginning of the consultation period with the Labour Authority and the effective date of the dismissal.

Legal Actions In the case that an agreement is reached at the end of the procedure, the decision can only be challenged on the grounds of fraud, deception, coercion or violation of rights. If no agreement is reached, it can be challenged through a collective dispute. In either case, the worker may exercise individual actions:

  • Termination of work contract, receiving compensation of 20 days per year of service, prorating for months the periods of less than one year and with a maximum of 9 months; or,
  • Contesting the decision before the court

Collective claims asserting the procedure is invalid or that it does not follow established requirements do not prejudice individual claims.

The Labour Authority may contest and void the agreements adopted during the consulting period if it finds that they have been reached due to fraud, deception, coercion or disenfranchisement.

Conclusion

Both Labour Law and the Spanish Courts require rigorous procedural compliance in all collective negotiations and that the negotiating parties act in good faith throughout the entire procedure.

Despite the differences between the procedures (especially with regard to the documentation that the employer must provide), there is similarity in the justifying causes and the early phases of the collective procedures. However, there are differences in the final phases and legal actions.

Regardless, in both collective procedures, non-compliance of any requirement or having one party act in bad faith will result in the procedure being voided, de facto. Any company seeking to engage in collective agreement negotiation is recommended to seek expert legal advice.

This article is not considered as legal advice

Labour Law

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