Due to the emergency situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spanish Government recently adopted a series of measures to support vulnerable workers, families and groups, through Royal Decree-Law 8/2020 of 17 March.
On 14 March 2020, the Spanish Government declared a State of Alarm, to face the global health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to promote work-life balance, the Government recognised, through Royal Decree-Law 8/2020 of 17 March, the existence of the right of workers to pursue an adaptation to, and/or a reduction of, their working hours. This benefit is afforded to employees who can prove that they bear a duty to care for their spouse, partner and relatives to the second degree of consanguinity, attending to exceptional circumstances related to the actions necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Specifically, it is understood that exceptional circumstances occur when:
- it is necessary for employee to attend to their spouse, partner and relatives, who, due to age, illness or disability, need personal and direct care resulting from the COVID-19 disease.
- when, by decision of the Government Authority in relation to COVID-19, education centres and care centres for people in need are closed.
- when the person, who has thus far been in charge of directly caring for, or providing assistance to, the worker’s spouse, partner or relatives, can no longer continue to provide such care, due to justifiable reasons related to the COVID-19 crisis.
This right is an individual benefit afforded to each parent or caregiver, on a singular, personal basis, that has to be specifically requested by the employee, with clear designation of its scope and content. It must also be justified, reasonable and necessary in accordance with the care that the employee is expected to provide, as well as the organisational needs of the company. This right of adaptation may consist of a shift change, a change in schedule, flexible hours, midday break or continuous work day, change of functions,… In each case, any change in the working conditions must be practical for the company to implement and adopt; it must be applied in a reasonable and proportionate way; and it must also allow the worker to provide their spouse, partner and relatives with the necessary care and attention that is required.
Likewise, the worker’s right to pursue a special reduction of their working hours, upon the occurance of the abovementioned exceptional circumstances, shall be recognised accordingly. Although the reduction may reach an amount equal to 100% of the working day, this does not imply a change the nature of the work. For all purposes, this measure will be considered as a reduction of the ordinary working hours provided for in the Workers’ Statute, to which will apply all the rights and guarantees established in the regulation.
These measures will remain in force for a period of three months after the date when the State of Alert will end.
If you require assistance to help you with a specific case, please don’t hesitate to get back to us. Suárez de Vivero attorneys are available to assist you with these and other workplace issues. For more information, visit https://suarezdevivero.com/
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