In Spain, there is a special contractual form called a “relief contract”. This occurs when an employee decides to opt for the partial retirement instead of the ordinary retirement (the Relieved) and a new employee is hired by the Company to substitute the Relieved (the Reliever). The Reliever must be an unemployed person or an employee who has a fixed-term contract with the company.
This contract however, is subject to a term, that is, the contract finishes when the Relieved acquires the ordinary retirement.
A recent Spanish Supreme Court (SSC) ruling addressed what would happen if the Relieved opts for the early retirement instead of the ordinary retirement. Should the contract be extinguished by the company? In this particular case, the company decided to terminate the relief contract and to hire another employee to fill the functions of the Relieved, arguing that the relief contract had come to an end due to the retirement of the Relieved.
However, the SSC set that the relief contract ends when the Relieved acquire the ordinary age for retirement, which was not the case here, since the early retirement was acquired by the employee before reaching the ordinary age for retirement. Thus, the relief contract cannot be terminated until the Relieved reaches the ordinary age for retirement and not before, even if such employee has opted for the early retirement and, from a legal and administrative point of view, appears as a retired employee.