ERTE: Spain extends furlough scheme until May

Spain’s government will extend the ERTE scheme which supporting hundreds of thousands of workers furloughed due to COVID-19 until May, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced on Tuesday.

ERTE: Spain extends furlough scheme until May
Photo: AFP

The decision was taken after unions and business groups reached an agreement with the government on the issue.

Spain’s temporary unemployment scheme known as ERTE was launched in April in a bid to avoid massive layoffs at firms hit by the lockdown introduced in an attempt to curb coronavirus infections as the pandemic took hold in Spain.

It provides furloughed workers with 70 percent of their base salary for the first six months, before dropping to 50 percent for the following months.    

Those companies that take part in the scheme are banned from making layoffs in the six months after it ends.

“We will maintain all measures to safeguard employment,” Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz told journalists.

At its peak, 3.4 million workers benefited from furlough conditions and as businesses reopened many returned to work.

However, According to the latest data from Spain’s Employment ministry, 755,000 workers were still being funded under the scheme, which was due to expire at the end of January.

Spain's average unemployment rate during 2020 came in just below 16 percent after the number of people registered as jobless rose to 3.89 million in 2020, the first increase since 2013.

The International Monetary Fund predicts the Spanish economy will post a 12.8 percent economic slump in 2020, which would make it the hardest-hit country of the world's advanced economies.


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Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Italy's government will extend its proposed one-time €200 benefit to more people and introduce a €60 public transport payment, Italian media reported on Thursday.

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Seasonal workers, domestic and cleaning staff, the self-employed, the unemployed and those on Italy’s ‘citizens’ income’ will be added to the categories of people in Italy eligible for a one-off €200 payment, ministers reportedly announced on Thursday evening.

The one-time bonus, announced earlier this week as part of a package of financial measures designed to offset the rising cost of living, was initially set to be for pensioners and workers on an income of less than €35,000 only.

However the government has now agreed to extend the payment to the additional groups following pressure from Italy’s labour, families, and regional affairs ministers and representatives of the Five Star Movement, according to news agency Ansa.

Pensioners and employees will reportedly receive the €200 benefit between June and July via a direct payment into their pension slip or pay packet.

For other groups, a special fund will be created at the Labour Ministry and the procedures for claiming and distributing payments detailed in an incoming decree, according to the Corriere della Sera news daily.

One new measure introduced at the cabinet meeting on Thursday is the introduction of a one-time €60 public transport bonus for students and workers earning below €35,000. The bonus is reportedly designed to encourage greater use of public transport and will take the form of an e-voucher that can be used when purchasing a bus, train or metro season pass.

Other provisions reportedly proposed in the energy and investment decree (decreto energia e investimenti), which is still being adjusted and amended, include extending energy bill discounts, cutting petrol excise duty and rolling on the deadline to claim Italy’s popular ‘superbonus 110’.

The €14 billion aid package, intended to lessen the economic impact of the war in Ukraine, will “fight the higher cost of living” and is “a temporary situation”, Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said.

The Local will report further details of the payment scheme once they become available following final approval of the decree.