(June 25, 2020) An agreement was reached between the government employees’ unions and the Ministry of Territorial Policy and Public Administration (MTPPA) allowing government employees in Spain to telework four days a week and go to their offices only one day a week. The agreement entered into force on June 21, 2020, and will last until an official declaration stating that the coronavirus emergency has passed and the country returns to an unrestricted normality. This can only be fully achieved, according to experts, when a large percentage of the population is vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
Under the agreement, government employees will be able to have a four-day teleworking schedule if they care for children up to 14 years old, a dependent adult, or anyone with illnesses that put them at risk from contracting COVID-19. Telework under this schedule will always be voluntary and revocable. Public employees may request telework when needed, and it may be reversed for organizational or service needs reasons.
For all other staff, the ordinary modality will be on-site work, but they will be able to telework a minimum of one day a week.
The unions consider the accord to be a “pioneering agreement” in the labor organization in Spain because it allows for a better balance of family and work life and is intended to last beyond the pandemic and become part of future telework regulations. Negotiations between unions, the government, and the private sector on new, permanent telework regulations are set to begin in July.
In the meantime, the new schedule will allow the government to enter into the “new normality phase,” guaranteeing health and quality in the rendering of public service.
The new schedule applies to the personnel of the General Administration of the State, which includes the staff of the ministries and their agencies, including the Social Security and National Parks agencies. The agreement does not, however, apply to the personnel of the Armed Forces, the State Security Forces and Corps, and the Administration of Justice.
Authorities involved in the negotiation of the agreement explained that the agreement is a framework agreement regulating telework in general, but it will be up to each work unit to provide for the specifics of teleworking protocols.
Among the details regarding the agreement that must still be addressed are the cost of these adjustments, how the telework will be implemented, and who will bear the cost of the equipment and cyberconnections needed for telework.
Regarding customer service in the offices of the State Administration, telephone and telematic customer service will be the preferred format, while face-to-face customer service will be limited and require an appointment.
Work time flexibility will also be increased to allow for employees’ staggered arrival at and departure from their offices. Work may be performed until 9 p.m., though the offices will not be open to the public that late.
The agreement maintains current measures to prevent people with COVID-19 symptoms from entering the workplace. Those with symptoms must follow the protocol established under the health and safety regulations and report to the health services office on returning to work.
The agreement creates a monitoring commission to ensure its correct enforcement.
In addition to instituting teleworking, work time, preventive health measures, the agreement also regulates other types of situations. Under the agreement,
- meetings are to be held through audio- or videoconferencing, avoiding as much as possible face-to-face contact or traveling to other locations;
- travel is to be suspended if the reasons for traveling may be addressed through a call or videoconference;
- courses are to be held primarily through telematics means; and
- hiring tests will continue to be conducted in accordance with regular procedures while complying with health authorities’ instructions.