They are the visible faces of the star contract of the labor reform: the discontinuous permanent contract, which has multiplied by 13 in the last year. A contract that can change people’s lives. He’s already doing it. Carles Garrigues, a 20-year-old from Valencia, had been working since he was 18 with temporary contracts that he renewed every month. In April he signed the first one as a non-continuous permanent job and has been able to become independent: “This contract gives you more peace of mind by having a stable job. As a result of him I have become independent with my partner. It’s a relief to be able to ask for a loan to move out of your parents’ house”. The ambition of this warehouse worker employed in the municipality of Pobla Llarga is to stay in the company. “So I can relax forever,” he says.
“It was demeaning to sign contracts from Monday to Friday and be discharged from Social Security to hire us again the following Monday,” says Claudia Marcela Esguerra, a 41-year-old Colombian who has lived in Zaragoza for three and a half years. She is currently working permanently as an operator in a company that supplies Balay coils and has managed to rent an apartment. “I’ve been looking since November, but since I had temporary contracts, the owners wouldn’t rent it to me. Now they have accepted me and they have not asked me for a guarantee or anything, ”she maintains.
Because the labor reform of last December, focused on minimizing the temporality that reigns in Spain, has given wings to permanent contracts and has made this renewed contract become the only possible one for seasonal or intermittent jobs. The substitute for many of the disappeared work contracts and the one that is growing the most. Between January and May, 2,498,263 million permanent contracts have been registered (more than during all of 2021), of which 683,300 have been permanent discontinuous contracts, according to the Ministry of Labor, which welcomed this week that May was the one in which more indefinite ones have been made in history (730,427 in total, 264,524 fixed discontinuous). They are close to 45% of the total, when in April they were 48%, but they have skyrocketed from 10% at the end of 2021. “It is the most effective reform we know of,” said the Secretary of State for Employment, Joaquín Pérez Rey , which “has achieved its purpose of transferring unjustified temporary employment to job stability.”
“The paradigm shift is very important. The work contract has been abolished and a stable employment contract has been opted for, modifying the wording of the discontinuous fixed contract, which is flexible but has an indefinite nature, which gives security to workers and stability to companies”, maintains Fernando Luján, secretary UGT confederation. That is precisely its greatest advantage, reducing precariousness. “Although there is no continuity in employment as in ordinary permanent contracts and their salaries are subject to the call, the discontinuous permanent ones have greater protection than the temporary ones, because at the time of termination of the contract instead of being compensated with 12 days for year, they will be with 20 or 33 days. In addition, in the periods in which they do not work, seniority is taken into account to calculate their severance pay”, explains José Manuel Mateo, a partner at Garrigues. These last two issues are what Javier Blasco, director of the Adecco Institute, cites as the greatest disadvantages for companies, since they increase their costs.
The director of human resources at Moventis, Agustí López, is not so concerned about severance payments as he is about the increase in accidents that can be caused by hiring people with recently obtained bus driving licences. They are looking for about 150 drivers for their passenger transport company under the discontinuous fixed contract that they are using for the first time “to give the worker more stability and future prospects”, at a time when the sector is desperately struggling to attract professionals and is unable to cover their demand, “hence the change in the hiring strategy,” he adds. They offer 9-10 months of work, one vacation, and gross salaries of 2,300 euros per month.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
This contract must still be developed through collective bargaining, establishing key aspects such as the minimum periods of call and inactivity, which in France are accompanied by training, appreciates the confederal secretary of the UGT. “For companies, the discontinuous permanent contract implies many headaches, especially for contractors and the construction sector. The regulations are not clear”, affirms Jorge Aranaz, partner of Cuatrecasas. “It is not known how the call order is going, which many collective agreements do not include; there are also no fixed stoppage periods, which can lead to difficulties for the worker”, he adds.
The issue of periods of inactivity is the one that most worries Nuria, a 49-year-old telephone manager, who last month changed the successive contracts for work and service with which she had been in her position for 5 years. contact center Madrid (10 years in total) for a fixed discontinuous one. During those periods the workers go home without pay or unemployment if they are entitled to it. By the way, now they contribute 1% more to unemployment, notes Mario Gil, Labor inspector. And they have to wait for the call of their company. “In the industry of contact center These contracts have never been applied. There are very few campaigns that are seasonal and the union is telling us that they should have made us regular fixtures instead of non-continuous. Those contracts do change your life, because you don’t have to be aware of the period of inactivity, which we still don’t know how they are going to apply to us in my company,” says Nuria, a professional in the telephone service of a large bank. .
The Labor Inspectorate is going to launch a campaign to monitor whether the object of the discontinuous fixed contracts is real or not and, therefore, the workers should become indefinite. In addition to checking if those carried out part-time are necessary or if seniority is correctly included in the compensation.
access to housing
Cristina Andra, a 25-year-old from Alcarreña, was one of the first hired as a discontinuous permanent fixture by Adecco after four years of temporary contracts. “I have more stability than before with contracts of 7 days, 15 or one month. If the work went down, they fired you. Now they put me first in front of other people,” she says. However, her ambition is to have an indefinite contract with all rights and no blank periods. Although with this she plans to buy a house.
Acquiring a home is a goal that he shares with Mohamed Mourabent, a 36-year-old Moroccan who, like more than a dozen colleagues, has been permanent discontinuous since April 1 at his lighting company in Lleida. “I have a stability and security that I didn’t have before with temporary contracts. Not only financially, but also psychologically, not having to think about looking for a job again, sending resumes… It was not pleasant to be like this every two or three”, he assures, while acknowledging that this contract will change his way of life, since he wants to move home and town: “I’m looking at ads to buy a house to be closer to my daughter,” he says.
Precariousness or employability
There are those who state that the discontinuous fixed contract is the new form of job insecurity. The experts consulted for this article disagree. Although they consider that it will be necessary to give companies time to get used to it. Also the employees. “Precariousness is a sum of very low wages and excessive and fraudulent temporary work. I do not understand that it is said that the discontinuous fixed represents the new precariousness”, affirms Fernando Luján, of UGT. “These are not the new precarious contracts because they are open-ended, but they are being used by companies that used to hire temporary workers and on occasions they are the employer’s escape route so as not to make ordinary open-ended contracts,” supports José Manuel Mateo, from Garrigues.
For Javier Blasco, from Adecco, “the discontinuous permanent provides greater stability and the desired rotation between sectors results in an increase in wages. We must promote employability through the retraining of workers and also improve their salaries.” But yes, Luján says that abuses should be avoided. “That the contract becomes a come to work today and not tomorrow. The worker must know when he has to work.” “If there is excessive turnover, even if it is compensated with 33 days per year, this contract will not serve its purpose. And it will generate a lot of litigation,” Blasco estimates.