LEGAL MEASURES TAKEN BY THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT REGARDING THE COVID-19
1) ALARM STATUS (March 13th)
On March 13th 2020, the Spanish Government declared the "alarm status", which as per the regulations passed on March 14th, implies among other measures the following:
In addition, the Spanish Government also published new regulations on the application of specific measures with regard to COVID-19, as follows:
What are employers' obligations in respect of COVID-19?
On March 4th 2020, the Spanish Ministry for Employment published a practical guide in relation to implications of COVID-19 proposing the implementation of teleworking as a temporary organizational measure.
As such, employers should carry out a risk assessment and consider any factors that may make employees particularly susceptible to infection. Employers should also consider circulating up-to-date information on good hygiene practices and provide any necessary equipment to facilitate this, such as hand sanitisers. For example, we recommend issuing a reminder on action employees can take to help stop viruses like COVID-19 spreading. Such advice may include:
Can employers request or require information from an employee about potential or actual exposure to the virus?
The question of whether an employee can be asked to sign a declaration about where they have been, their exposure to the virus, or be required to provide information to an employer in order for the employer to provide confirmation to a customer sits firmly in the crossover between data privacy and employment. Any such data must also be processed in line with the applicable privacy requirements. Information about an employee's health (such as whether the individual has been diagnosed with the virus or is suffering from any symptoms) is sensitive personal data and accordingly additional requirements and obligations apply to the processing of such data.
In Spain, the Supervisory Authorities have published on 12 March 2020 some guidelines for the processing of personal data in relation to COVID-19, stating that there are sufficient legal grounds in the GDPR [articles (6.1.c, e and d) and (9.2.b,I,g,h and c)] that could be applicable in this context to allow the treatment of such sensitive data, so data protection should not be used to hinder or limit the effectiveness of measures taken by the authorities, especially health authorities, during the fight against the pandemic.
Hence, based on labour and occupational risk prevention regulations, employers may process the necessary data to guarantee employee's health and safety, and to avoid contagions within the company and/or working places.
In any case, the processing of personal data, even during this health emergency situation, must still be carried out in accordance with the regulations on the protection of personal data.
What should employers do if an employee is absent or infected?
Any time that employees are unable to render services due to an absence (e.g. quarantine) or infection will be considered as occupational illness. The subsidy (paid by the Spanish Social Security in full) amounts to 75% of the employee's monthly base contribution -unless the CBA provides that the company must pay additional sums to complete the employee's full salary. The base contribution is the employee's total monthly remuneration subject to the annually-fixed maximum and minimum limits. Currently, the maximum limit for full-time employees is 4.070,10 euro per month and the minimum ranges from 1,050.00 euro to 1.466,40 euro, depending on the employee's professional category.
Potentially Infected Employees
In the event that the company becomes aware that an employee has been in direct contact with a person infected by COVID-19, the employee should be asked to undergo a voluntary medical examination. In case an employee confirms that he has been infected, such employee can be required to immediately abandon the work place.
In addition, the potentially infected employee may be recommended to provide services from their home (i.e. telework) and monitor their health, in order to avoid contagion in the company's workforce. The company can also offer telework to all staff if it wishes. If an employee agrees, a remote working agreement should be entered into before they commence teleworking.
On March 12th 2020, the Spanish Government announced that -will provide those parents who have been affected by this measure with an extraordinary subsidy that will be published in the following days– detailed regulation will be published next week.
2) THE CONSEJO DE MINISTROS (GOVERNMENT CABINET), AS OF, TUESDAY MARCH 17th 2020, REINFORCES THE MEASURES OF THE ECONOMIC SHOCK PLAN BEFORE THE COVID-19. SUMMARY OF THE LIST OF THE MEASURES APPROVED:
Mobilization of 200.000 million euros for:
Employment protection measures to face COVID-19:
Measures to support companies before the COVID-19:
Measures to support families that are vulnerable to the COVID-19:
Measures to support scientific research in the face of COVID-19:
3) On March 27th 2020 the Government Cabinet (Consejo de Ministros) decided to prohibit dismissals during the coronavirus crisis.
4) On March 31st the Spanish government has halted all non-essential activity and businesses and, therefore, the employees of those companies shall stay at home from March 31st until next April 9th, both included.
The employees affected by such provision will get their normal monthly salary, as set out in the "recoverable compulsory permit leave scheme", and the recovery of those working days are to be agreed with the company.
Essential services will continue and include transportation, banking, foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare, among others.
Barcelona, March 31st 2020