Employment termination in Spain

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Collective dismissals

Collective dismissal means the extinction of the contract based on economic, technical, organizational or production causes when, in a period of nineteen days, the extinctions affects at least to:

  • Ten employees, in companies with fewer that one hundred employees.
  • The ten per cent of the number of employees in companies with between one hundred and three hundred employees.
  • Thirty employees in companies which employ more than three hundred employees.

The collective dismissal must be preceded by a consultation period of no more than thirty days, or fifteen in case of companies with fewer than fifty employees, with the legal representatives of the employees. The consultation with the legal representatives of the employees must be, at the very least, about the possibilities of avoid or reduce the collective dismissals and attenuate its consequences through the use of accompanying social measures (e.g.: outplacement activities, training activities…).

The communication of the opening of the consultation period will start by means of a document by the employer to the legal representatives of the employees, and one copy which has to be sent to the labour authority. In this document shall be specified the following points:

  • The specification of the causes of the collective dismissal.
  • Number and professional qualification of the affected employees by the dismissal.
  • Number and professional qualification of the employees employed in the last year.
  • Period of time expected for the realization of the dismissals.
  • Criteria used for the designation of the affected employees by the dismissal.
  • Copy of the communication directed to the employees or their representatives.
  • Representatives of the employees who will be part of the negotiating committee.

The communication to the legal representatives of the employees and to the labour authority shall be accompanied with an Explanatory Memorandum about the causes of the collective dismissal and the other aspects indicated in the previous paragraph, and also the financial and accounts documentation and the technical dossier.

During the consultation period, the Parties shall negotiate with good faith, aiming to reach an agreement.

That agreement shall require the approval of the majority of the legal representative of the employees or, where appropriate, the majority of the members of the representative commission of the employees.

The termination of the consultation period can finish with an agreement or without agreement; if it finishes with an agreement a Deed of Agreement has to be drafted, or a Deed of Final Decision in case no agreement can be reached. After the consultation period, the result of the communication period has to be communicated to the labour authority and to the employees individually. In case of objection, this can be individually or collective.

Termination of the contract due to objective causes

The employment contract may be terminated for the following causes:

  • For known or for subsequent ineptitude of the employee after his effective placement in the company.
  • Because a lack of adaptation of the employee to the technical modifications operated in his works placement, if those changes are reasonable. First, the employer shall offer to the employee a guided course to facilitate the adaptation.
  • When any of the causes of the collective dismissal concurs and it affect to less than the thresholds established for the collective dismissals.
  • For non-attendance faults to the work, even if justified but intermittent, which are more than the twenty per cent of the working days in two consecutive months, as long as the total of non-attendance faults in the last twelve months exceed the five per cent of the working days, or the twenty five per cent in four discontinuous months.
  • The absences caused by legal strike, exercise of legal representation activities, accident at work, maternity, risk during pregnancy or breastfeeding shall not be count as non-attendance faults to the work, nor if the absences obey to a medical treatment of cancer or serious illness.

Form and effects of the extinction due to objective causes

The adoption of an extinguishment agreement demands the following requisites:

  • Written communication to the employee explaining the cause.
  • Make available to the employee, at the same time of giving the written document, the compensation of twenty days per worked year, prorating as months the periods of time less than a year and with the maximum of twelve monthly pays.
  • Fifty days prior notice of the termination of the contract, to commence from the moment of the official notification to the employee, until the end of the contract.

During the period of notice, the employee shall have the right of 6 hours per week licence to look for a work.

Against the termination decision the employee is able to appeal in the same way as with a disciplinary dismissal.

If the decision is based in reasons of the types of discrimination forbidden by the Constitution or by the Law, or it is made with violation of the fundamental rights and civil liberties, the termination decision will be null and void.

It will be also null the termination decision in the next situations:

  • Employees when their contracts are under suspension caused by maternity, risk during pregnancy, risk during breastfeeding, adoption or family placement…
  • To the pregnant employees, from the beginning of the pregnancy until the start of the period of suspension.
  • Employees after the return from the situations mentioned in paragraph a) if there has not passed nine month since the date of birth or date of the family placement.

The qualification by the judicial authority as null, fair or unfair dismissal of the same will produce the same effects than in case of disciplinary dismissal with the following modifications:

  • In case of fair dismissal, the employee shall be entitled for a compensation of 20 days per worked year, prorating as months the periods of time less than a year and with the with the maximum of twelve monthly pays.
  • In case of unfair dismissal, if the employer proceeds to readmit the employee, the employee has to reintegrate the perceived compensation and corresponding procedural salary. In case of substitution of the readmitting for financial compensation, the amount of that compensation will be deduced from this compensation.

Disciplinary dismissal

The contract can be terminated by decision of the employer, through a dismissal based on serious and negligent breach of duty by the employee.

Shall be regarded as contractual breaches:

  • Repeated an unjustified absenteeism.
  • The indiscipline or disobedience at work.
  • Verbal or physical offences to the employer, or other employees of the company, or relatives who live with them.
  • The breach of the contractual good faith, as well as the breach of trust in the course of the work.
  • The voluntary and continuous decline on working output.
  • Habitual drug or alcohol abuse which adversely affects to the work performance.
  • The harassment based on racial or ethnic origin, religion or convictions, disability, age or sexual orientation or sexual harassment.

Form and effects of the extinction due to disciplinary effects

The dismissal must be notified in writing, with an explanation of the causes and the date when it takes effect.

If the employee is a legal representative of the employees or a trade union representative will proceed to open a contradictory dossier, in this will be heard, besides the interested employee, the other members of the representation.

If the employee is a labour union member and the employee knows it, has to give prior hearing to the union representatives.

If the dismissal is done not respecting these requirements, the employer can make a new dismissal with all of the necessary requirements omitted in the previous. This new dismissal, will only be effective since its date of execution, and can only be done within the term of twenty days since the first dismissal.

The dismissal will be qualified as fair, unfair or null.

The dismissal shall be fair when the breach is accepted by the employer. It will be unfair in the opposite case or if its form is not adjusted to the Law.

It will be null in case the dismissal has been done by causes of discrimination prohibited in the Constitution or in the Law, or when is done with a violation of the fundamental rights or the public liberties of the employee.

It will be also null and void the dismissal in the following causes:

  • The employees who have their contracts under suspension caused by maternity, risk during pregnancy, risk during breastfeeding, adoption or family placement…
  • To the pregnant employees, from the beginning of the pregnancy until the start of the period of suspension.
  • Employees after the return from the situations mentioned in paragraph a) if there has not passed nine month since the date of birth or date of the family placement.

The previous specifications will be also null, except if the dismissal is qualified as fair by reasons which are not related with the pregnancy or the exercise of the rights to leaves or other licenses pointed.

The effect of the null dismissal is the automatic reinstatement of the employee, with the payment of the salaries they did not receive since the date of dismissal to the declaration of null dismissal.

The fair dismissal may validate the extinction of the work contract, without the right of  compensation and nor procedural salaries.

Unfair dismissal

If the dismissal is qualified as unfair, the employer, within five days since the notification of the sentence, may elect between the reinstatement of the employee or to pay an indemnity  equal  to thirty-three days of salary per worked year, prorating as months the periods of time less than a year and with the maximum of twenty-four monthly pays.

If the employer chooses the reinstatement, the employee has the right to obtain the procedural salaries.

If the employer does not choose between the reinstatement and the compensation, it is understood that he choose the first.

If the dismissed employee is a legal representative of the employees or a trade union representative, the option will always correspond to him. If he does not choose between reinstatement and compensation, it is understood that he choose the reinstatement, and he will have right to receive the procedural salaries.

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