The Labor Inspectorate has deployed a new action against abuses in hiring and, specifically, has focused on temporary employment agencies (ETT). It was announced over the weekend by the Vice President and Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, who announced that the campaign would begin this Monday, March 27. The action has already begun and involves “the sending of more than 4,600 letters”, which affect “some 45,000 labor relations”, respond sources from the Ministry of Labor consulted by elDiario.es.
One year of the labor reform that has reduced temporary contracts to the historical minimum of 15%
“This week I am launching a new campaign from the Inspectorate to review fraud in ETTs,” said Yolanda Díaz at a campaign event for the Sumar Platform to questions from one of the participants. “I think that this business of large or small companies has ended, here the law will be complied with by everyone, no matter how large companies they are,” said the second vice president.
Temporary temporary workers (such as Adecco, Randstad and Manpower, among others) base their business on making temporary workers available to other companies. Since the labor reform, its weight has fallen considerably, since the norm has managed to greatly reduce temporary employment. However, the legislation opened the door for them to sign discontinuous permanent contracts, indefinite but for seasonal or intermittent jobs, which have come to represent a large part of their activity at the end of 2022.
Currently there are around 184,000 people affiliated through ETTs, according to data from the Social Security for the last month. Therefore, the magnifying glass of the Labor Inspectorate on some “45,000 labor relations” is very relevant, since it is about one in four jobs in the sector.
The action on the ETT falls within the framework of the “fight against fraud in recruitment” of 2023, they explain in Trabajo. Under scrutiny are those made available to employees to other companies when a possible irregularity is observed, either through temporary contracts or discontinuous permanent ones.
The Asempleo employers, to which various temporary employment companies refer to answer about the anti-fraud campaign, points out the “full involvement and collaboration of the ETT sector”, although they regret “not having had knowledge of its content through the bodies and channels established for the institutional participation of the social partners”.
Asempleo also points to the “fraud that occurs in unauthorized companies that carry out illegal transfer of workers, with serious violation of their rights, and undeclared employment that occurs in the environment of the underground economy”, against those who consider that anti-fraud campaigns should be strengthened. The ETTs are committed to “orderly temporary work and with full rights”, insists the employer, who recalls that the sector already “has control elements both by the Labor Inspectorate, as well as by the Ministry itself and the Public Services of Employment”.
Adecco sources explain that at the moment they have not received “any letter” from the Inspectorate and maintain that the company is “absolutely calm” about the procedure, since Labor annually monitors compliance with the law in the sector.
Fraud detected by massive data crossing
Although the Labor Inspectorate works regularly in temporary employment agencies, as reported in its annual reports, on this occasion the public body has deployed a specific campaign in light of signs of fraud. It is about sending letters to companies before the detection of alleged irregularities, thanks to the massive crossing of data from its Anti-Fraud Tool.
This type of campaign was inaugurated in 2018 with Magdalena Valerio at the head of Labor and has increased under the mandate of Yolanda Díaz. So far, the Inspectorate has launched these procedures against abuses in temporary contracts -very successfully, with the conversion of tens of thousands of temporary to permanent-, but also with regard to the use of fictitious partial contracts and the underquoting of domestic workers, with wages below the minimum wage.
He mode of operation of these actions consists of two phases. The first, which begins with the sending of “informative” letters in which the Labor Inspectorate notifies companies that it has detected an alleged irregularity. The agency gives companies a period of one month to ‘voluntarily’ regularize the situation or to justify that they are complying with the law. The second phase begins once this period has expired, when the Inspectorate verifies each case and acts if the companies ignore their notice or are not convinced by their arguments.
This case is particular, since there are two companies involved, the one in which the employee made available works and the ETT itself. Sometimes, employers go to temporary employment agencies on a recurring basis to cover the same positions, which in reality are not temporary, but structural and therefore should have permanent employees.
This was the case with Diego, a forklift operator in a factory in the Community of Madrid. Before the labor reform, he told this medium that in order to achieve a ‘permanent’ contract, he had to spend several months hanging from an ETT, with weekly contracts from Monday to Friday. “To stay, you have to endure a time as temporary,” he summarized.
227,500 temporary converted to permanent in 2022
The labor reform has plummeted temporary employment, but there are still fluctuations of workers at the beginning and end of the week and also of each month, patterns in the affiliation figures that the Ministry of Social Security “is studying”, has responded on several occasions the Secretary of State for Social Security, Borja Suárez.
There are many eyes that are directed at discontinuous permanent contracts, which have increased a lot in the last year and about which there was hardly any prior knowledge on many occasions, which can lead to irregularities, warn the unions. In UGT they have pointed out specifically to the ETT, for possible infractions with this modality.
In Asempleo they maintain that the changes introduced in the labor reform “enable temporary temporary employment agencies” discontinuous permanent hiring, “but limit their availability only for temporary needs of user companies.”
The employer adds that “social dialogue tables have been opened with the most representative union organizations for the development and optimization” of the new regulations and that the experience of the first year of reform has shown “the great capacity” of the ETT “to facilitate effective working times well above the average” and the “permanent incorporation of these people in the templates of the user companies”, among other advances.
From the Ministry of Labor they have insisted that surveillance against fraud and abuse in contracting continues to be active, with the launch of various campaigns and the ordinary actions of the Inspection. Throughout 2022, thanks to the actions of the public body, “27,116 discontinuous permanent contracts were converted into ordinary permanent ones” and also “227,485 temporary contracts were transformed into indefinite ones”, respond from Labor.
The labor authority now has higher sanctions. The abuse of temporary contracts is no longer punished with a single sanction, but with several (one for each worker in fraud) and also more substantial, which can reach 10,000 euros per employee. An example of this has been seen in a recent sanction against Ryanair, which signed dozens of temporary contracts “in fraud” a few days before the full deployment of the labor reform, the Labor Inspectorate concluded.
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