Minister Yolanda Díaz at a meeting with union and business leaders. / FILe photo

Spanish government extends ERTE furlough scheme to 31 March

The furloughs resulting from the volcanic eruption on La Palma, in the Canary Islands, will however continue until June and possibly beyond

LUCÍA PALACIOS Madrid

The Spanish government has finally backed down and agreed to extend the furlough scheme which was introduced at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, but only until 31 March and not until June as some sectors had requested. The furloughs resulting from the volcanic eruption on La Palma, in the Canary Islands, will however continue until June and possibly beyond.

However, the conditions for this short-term extension of the pandemic furlough scheme will not be exactly the same, as 20 per cent fewer companies will benefit from the exemptions from Social Security contributions. For furloughed workers, though, nothing will change. Nearly 105,000 people are in this situation, either from the pandemic or the volcanic eruption.

There will also be a special protection mechanism for travel agencies, as this sector has been worst-hit by the pandemic and will need considerable time to recover. Nearly 10,800 workers in this industry are furloughed at present, and that is almost one in three. Next month the government will approve a scheme specifically for these workers. Companies will be able to activate this mechanism for up to one year, and can then extend it twice for six months at a time if necessary.

The CC OO union has welcomed the agreement and asked the government to also extend the Me Cuida Plan until 30 June, which it has agreed to do.

Today is also the day on which the new minimum gross salary of 1,000 euros comes into force in Spain, retrospectively from 1 January. A new employment pension scheme is also being introduced to encourage people to save, but not all employers are in favour of these measures.