Paradores must pay for the supplements that it removed from its staff during the state of alarm | Economy | The USA Print

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Paradores exhibitor at the last edition of FITUR in Madrid, last January.
Paradores exhibitor at the last edition of FITUR in Madrid, last January.Alfredo Arias

Paradores de Turismo de España must pay its workers the salary supplements that it did not pay them during the period in which the establishments were closed as a result of the state of alarm. This has been agreed by the Social Chamber of the Supreme Court, which in a plenary decision known this Thursday has dismissed the appeal filed by the public company and has declared the sentence issued by the National Court final. This mostly estimated the claims of the unions and forced Paradores to pay the remuneration that it had not paid in its day and the centrals had claimed in court.

The labor conflict refers to the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic in Spain. After the declaration of the state of alarm, on March 14, 2020, the tourist hostels, like the rest of the hotel establishments, had to close. With the majority of employees at home, the company and the workers’ representatives reached an agreement: until March 29, the days of overtime, breaks and pending vacations would be spent.

In a second agreement, a recoverable paid leave was agreed that lasted until April 11. However, the paradores remained closed until June 24, without the management and the unions reaching an agreement on what to do. The latter proposed that an ERTE (temporary dismissal) be made, but Paradores argued that no public company had done so and opted to apply an excusing license to work with full salary, pro rata extra pay and some supplements.

Since this solution left out some salary bonuses, CC OO, UGT and CSIF filed a collective dispute lawsuit. In it, they demanded payment by Paradores of cash and night maintenance supplements, as well as bonuses for part-time work, accommodation, distances and compensation for rent difference. If that claim was not estimated, they asked that they be paid at least the difference between what they would have received from Social Security if they had been affected by an ERTE and the salary they actually received.

The latter was not necessary because in a ruling of June 17, 2021, the National Court partially upheld the union claim. The ruling recognized that the workers who did not provide service in the establishments between April 12 and June 24, 2020 had to be “compensated”. Specifically, it pointed out that Paradores had to pay the production premium, maintenance and night supplements, and the split shift bonus.

Salaries lower than the benefit

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After not seeing its claims recognized at the Hearing, the public company filed an appeal with the Supreme Court. However, this has been in vain because the Social Chamber has ratified the previous ruling. In this last pronouncement, which has been made in full (they are signed by the 10 magistrates of the court), the High Court highlights that the matter to be elucidated deals with “the consequences of the business decision not to activate the ERTE” and not about when a supplement is paid or not “in normal situations”. The judges point out that the fact that in some cases “salaries below what their unemployment benefit would be” have been received, neutralizes “the business argument that the implemented solution sought to avoid harm to its workforce.”

As the ruling of the National Court already did in its day, the Supreme Court emphasizes that the non-declaration of an ERTE was due to “reasons of political opportunity”. And although he points out that “business conduct can be considered well-intentioned or coherent”, he assures that this consideration “is not enough to reduce or numb the right to salary benefit”. The statement, which is now firm, was voted on May 18 and was released this Thursday by the press office of the High Court. Sources from Paradores consulted by EL PAÍS have declined to assess the sentence and have limited themselves to pointing out that “they will proceed to comply with it shortly”.

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