The summer months allowed firms to take on many of the workers who were temporarily laid off due to the Covid-19 crisis in March. The number of employees leaving the ERTE furloughing scheme, however, has now slowed in the province of Malaga. At the end of September there were 26,921 people still temporarily unemployed due to the Covid crisis, a fall of just a thousand compared with the figure at the end of August.
Nevertheless nearly eight out of ten workers who were affected by the lockdown back in March and April are now no longer on an ERTE scheme. On 30 April more than 130,000 workers in the province of Malaga had applied for the temporary unemployment benefit. In May 15,000 of them went back to work; in June another 46,000 people left the scheme; in July 28,000; and in August 14,000.
It's not hard to see why the numbers slumped so much in September: firms that didn't manage to pick up steam again to take their workers back on in the summer had little chance of doing better in autumn.
A large number of workers still laid off with the ERTE scheme belong to hotels, bars and restaurants and other companies related to tourism. The majority of them, 19%, are bar and restaurant workers. Another 16% work in tourist accommodation and a similar percentage belong to commerce.
According to the extension already passed by the central government, these ERTE schemes can continue until 31 January, but with a significant condition. Not all firms will be able to continue to take advantage of the exemption from paying social security contributions for their laid-off workers. Only those belonging to 42 "especially affected" activities, specified in the government's decree, will benefit, along with those firms that depend for more than 50% of income on those activities.
"They announced an extension, but it's not really, as firms have had to apply again for the benefit for their workers," said the president of the association of social administrators in Malaga, Juan Fernández, who has received numerous queries about the new ERTE rules that are now in force.