The second vice president of the Government and Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, presented last week her plan to limit abuse in the trial period, which in all of 2023 caused 976,141 withdrawals from Social Security affiliation. This formula, parallel to dismissal, but which is not considered such nor does it include compensation, has become one of the weak points of the labor reform, which especially punishes workers with indefinite contracts, whose dismissals have skyrocketed by 837% since the rule was in force. But Labor’s strategy is limited to reducing the role of collective bargaining and it does not touch the true root of the problem: the endemic volatility of employment in Spain.
Without knowing the text, the Minister of Labor seems to have turned the transposition of the European directive on transparency in salary conditions into a means of correcting flaws that were pending in the 2021 labor reform, such as dismissal or ‘forced resignation’ for rejecting a substantial modification in working conditions, such as a reduction in working hours, the unilateral nature of said changes. But when it comes to the trial period, no new features are included. regarding a plan designed in the previous Legislature.
Article 14 of status of workers establishes that “in the absence of an agreement in an agreement”, the duration of the trial period may not exceed six months for qualified technicians, nor two months for other workers, or three if the company has fewer than 25 workers. These terms are reduced to one month for temporary contracts of less than six months, although the draft establishes that if the contracts last less than seven days they will not be able to have a trial period. Díaz’s plan also involves modifying the wording regarding the “agreement agreement”, so that the agreements cannot “extend the duration of these trial periods” in any of the cases.
The new wording states that “A trial period may be agreed upon in writing in accordance with the provisions of the collective agreement“but “the limits” set forth in the law must be respected. As we already said in elEconomista.eyes, This idea was introduced in the initial version of the transposition, which was negotiated at the end of the last Legislature and, except for last-minute surprises in the drafting, it does not differ from what is already known by employers and unions. Labor justifies the decision by the fact that the European directive establishes that the trial periods cannot exceed six months.
The agreements ignore Díaz
Why was this issue not introduced in the 2021 labor reform? The initial idea when not touching this section in the labor reform was that the agreements between employers and unions would be those that would limit downwards the duration of the trial period and would avoid the risk that companies would take the opportunity to make very short-term contracts without the right to compensation that replace the extinct temporary contracts for work and service. But in view of the data, this has not been the case.
In 2023, they signed 1,351 new agreements affecting 3.6 million workers. 82.9% of the agreements maintained the duration of the trial period established in the law unchanged. But the 17.1% that did modify it affect 1.67 million workers, which is equivalent to 44% of the employees of new agreements.
Of them, 141 agreements, 10.44% of all those signed, include a trial period shorter than the legal one. They affect 877,762 workers, 23.42% of the employees covered by these agreements. The remaining 6.41% is equivalent to the 91 agreements that chose to raise the temporary limit. The affected workers are 806,537, 21.52% of the total. However, this figure is slightly lower than that registered in 2021, when 838,904 employees were reached.
But in 2022, the first year of the labor reform, there were only 294,101, which at first seemed to support Díaz’s strategybut it must be taken into account that it was a slow year in collective bargaining, waiting for the signing of the AENC Agreement in May of last year, which calls for transparency and the adequacy of the trial period, but not that they do not exceed the legal maximum.
The vast majority of these pacts are included in sectoral agreements, so the 2023 data make it clear that the willingness of employers and unions to extend the trial period has barely been reduced after the labor reform. This despite the fact that the social agents were aware that the Government was going to take advantage of the transposition to reduce this discretion.
Some compelling data
But is it the right strategy? Let’s go back to the data: the number of people affected by agreements that extended the trial period in 2023 is similar to that of 2021but the casualties for not passing the trial period have skyrocketed. In this sense, social dialogue sources consider that the problem is not collective bargaining, since agreements that do not change working hours and those that reduce it also remain at similar levels. In his opinion, the trial periods provided by the norm are already long enough for companies to convert indefinite ones into ‘de facto temporary’ ones. Above all, if the assumptions and conditions of the trial period are not limited.
As we already have it in elEconomista.es, the 976,141 dismissals accumulated in 2023 for not passing the trial period are only slightly below the 991,265 classified as dismissals themselves. These are figures perfectly well known by the Government: last year the Ministry of Inclusion and Social Security reviewed the publication of statistics on the cause of membership withdrawals.to expand your double-entry accounting.
Now they are published as a daily average, as has already been done, and as the total of those registered on the last day of the month. Thus, in December (latest data available) there were 3,823.11 daily casualties on average (hence the decimals) and 68,816 in the total for the month, although December was a relatively weak month. In June, 105,102 were registered. These figures show that the endemic volatility of employment is a much more determining factor than changes in collective bargaining.
But this Volatility especially punishes workers with permanent contracts. Meanwhile, cases of temporary workers have fallen by 43%, those of permanent workers totaled 702,802 in all of 2023 and have skyrocketed by 29.5% compared to 2022 and 837% compared to 2021. Let us remember that under the framework Senior legal trial ranges between six and two months depending on the qualification of the position and three months for small businesses.
The leader of Sumar herself seems to understand this problem with her electoral promise to reinforce the causality of the dismissal, including dismissals due to a probationary period, so that they cannot be used discretionally. Although the latter did not enter into the agreement that he signed with Pedro Sánchez to reissue the Government coalition.
In this sense, the measure included by the transposition is far from a reform of the probationary period to prevent abuses and represents a partial limitation that in any case will force the agreements to be adjusted. But the problem remains to reduce it below the legal maximum. Above all, because if the resignations occur to replace temporary contracts of discretionary duration, a period of between two and three months (for SMEs) It is more than enough.