The Ministry of Labour and Social Economy has published a guide for action in the labour field in relation to the new coronavirus and Royal Decree Law 6/2020 has been approved by which the Social Security improves the protection of all workers isolated and/or infected by coronavirus.
As already mentioned in the previous article on this subject, there are several measures to be implemented, included in the labor law, which allow for the establishment of solutions to exceptional situations such as the one we are experiencing in our country.
Under this reasoning, the Ministry of Labour and Social Economy published a guide on 5 March for action in the labour field in relation to the new coronavirus. The aim of this document is to facilitate and clarify the application of labour regulations in relation to the different situations in which companies and workers may find themselves.
To this end and in summary, the guide is divided into two main points. The first is based on the prevention of occupational risks and the protection of the health of workers and refers to the cessation of the activity by decision of the company or by decision of the workers if there is a serious risk to their health in the workplace.
In this sense, the company must guarantee the safety and health of the workers in all aspects related to the work, so it is recommended to establish the necessary preventive measures that the occupational risk prevention service indicates depending on the activity of the company.
The second point of the guide focuses on labour regulations and the different options to take into account in those cases where daily activity may be affected by the virus. Three possible scenarios are presented to alleviate the effects of a possible closure of the work centre:
- The implementation of teleworking as an organisational measure whenever the activity allows it.
- The total or partial suspension of the activity due to a redundancy programme (ERTE of suspension of employment contracts or reduction of the employees’ working hours while the contingency situation lasts).
- The total or partial suspension of the activity without the processing of an employment regulation file, based on the provisions of Article 30 of the Workers’ Statute, and the worker retains the full right to his or her salary.
In the wake of the same content, criterion 3/2020 was signed on 9 March by the State Secretariat for Social Security and Pensions, which has replaced the previous criterion, and which has been taken up in Royal Decree Law 6/2020 of 11 March and, more specifically, in article 5 of Chapter II on measures for the protection of public health.
To this effect, the Social Security has improved the protection of all those workers isolated and/or infected by the coronavirus, due to the fact that this specific situation will be considered as an exceptional situation assimilated to an accident at work.
This means greater protection for workers, as they will receive a benefit equivalent to 75% of the regulatory base from day one. Similarly, it also means a greater benefit for companies, since this cost is assumed directly by the Administration, either through the Social Security or the corresponding mutual collaborator. It should be said that this measure also includes, under the same conditions, self-employed workers or those who are self-employed.
Ultimately, it is hoped that this will not be the last measure approved by the government to provide greater protection and safety for workers and to offer speedy procedures and effective solutions so that companies, especially SMEs, can withstand these foreseeable periods of difficulty.
In fact, the government has already announced that this coming Thursday it will announce a plan of action against the effects of the coronavirus and that, among other measures, it will include resources to protect working families, facilitating the reduction of working hours and helping them to care for minors, as well as various measures to protect employment and allow work flexibility, but also putting the focus on monitoring them so that they cannot be used to harm workers’ rights.