What is the Workers’ Statute?

The Estatuto de los Trabajadores (ET) developed by Royal Legislative Decree 2/2015 on October 23, is the primary regulation that governs labour relations between employees and companies in Spain. The primary goal of this legislation is to safeguard the employees’ labour rights and set forth the minimum requirements that employment contracts must fulfil. Furthermore, it lays down guidelines for resolving labour disputes and negotiating collective agreements while defining the duties and obligations of employers and employees alike.

The Estatuto de los Trabajadores is equivalent to the Code du travail in France, the Arbeitsrecht in Germany, and the Employment Rights Act 1996 in the UK.

The structure of the Workers’ Statute comprises various titles, chapters, and sections that contain articles regulating the fundamental aspects of work in Spain. The additional and transitional provisions at the end of the statute are equally applicable.

The Workers’ Statute (WS) sets out minimum conditions that must be adhered to in the employment contract without worsening or contradicting them. If the employment contract does not cover certain aspects of employment, the provisions of the Collective Agreement will apply. Without such an agreement, the regulations outlined in the Workers’ Statute will apply.

Scope of application

The Workers’ Statute applies to employees who voluntarily provide paid services within the scope of an employer’s organization and management. The statute covers a range of employment relationships, including special contracts for senior management, family home services, commercial commission agents, and disabled persons, among others. However, the Workers’ Statute excludes several employment contracts, for instance, those for management positions, administrative bodies, self-employed workers, and commercial workers.

The Workers’ Statute sets out the minimum essential labour rights for employees but also establishes certain obligations for employees. These obligations include performing the tasks inherent to their work activity, complying with health and safety measures, respecting the company rules, and contributing to improving its productivity, as far as possible.

The Workers’ Statute covers specific issues, such as working hours (Article 34), which have a significant impact on both employees and employers. The statute establishes the minimum requirements for working hours and duration and requires compliance with the provisions of the applicable Collective Agreement or employment contract. The ordinary annual working time per the WS is 40 hours per week, with a maximum daily working time of 9 hours and a minimum rest period of 12 hours between working days.

The Workers’ Statute and the Collective Agreement are crucial tools for regulating the employment relationship between employees and employers in Spain. While a collective labour agreement is the outcome of collective bargaining between workers’ representatives and the company and applies to a specific activity, the Workers’s Statute is the fundamental regulation to follow when an employment activity lacks a collective agreement. The Workers’ Statute holds superior authority over any other provision outlined in collective agreements or employment contracts. Any clauses that contradict the requirements of the WS are not enforceable, as they go against the fundamental regulation.

Carlos Rivero

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Please note that this article is not intended to provide legal advice.

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