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European justice asks Spain to make public employees with long temporary contracts permanent

Mairenis Gomez

June 13, 2024 | 5:00 pm

This decision affects thousands of workers who have suffered job insecurity for decades, and underlines the need for a profound reform in the Spanish public sector contracting system.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has issued a crucial ruling, urging Spain to make public employees who have chained temporary contracts for years permanent. This verdict affects thousands of workers who have been in this situation for decades, highlighting the need for profound labor reform in the Spanish public sector.

The CJEU underlines the need for indefinite contracts for public employees with long temporary contracts

The recent ruling of the CJEU responds to two preliminary questions raised by the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia. In its decision, the European court reaffirms its position that public employees who have suffered abuses in temporary hiring should have an indefinite employment relationship, although not necessarily as career civil servants. This point is essential, since European justice considers economic compensation and selective processes insufficient to solve these abuses.

Furthermore, the Luxembourg court emphasizes that it is up to the Spanish courts to interpret national law, but remembers that neither the call for selective processes nor compensation are adequate to prevent or punish abuses in temporary hiring. This implies that the only effective and dissuasive measure is the conversion of these contracts into indefinite ones.

The CJEU ruling reinforces the need for labor reform in the Spanish public sector

This failure is not isolated. Community justice had already demanded that Spain transform temporary contracts into permanent ones in previous rulings when abuses were detected. The reiteration of these sentences underlines the seriousness of the problem in the Spanish public sector, where many employees have been on temporary contracts for more than 30 years.

For his part, Fabián Valero, lawyer at Zeres Abogados, explains that the ruling recognizes the need to consider these workers permanent, aligning with the community directive. Although they are not called officials, These people can only be dismissed for disciplinary reasons, which represents significant protection against job insecurity.

The CJEU criticizes insufficient compensatory measures and suggests more effective sanctions

The CJEU has also criticized financial compensation as a measure to punish the abuse of temporary employment, considering that they are not sufficiently effective or dissuasive. Valero adds that this point may have broader implications, even affecting the private sector, since the current financial compensation only repairs the damage of the dismissal, not the prolonged abuse of temporary hiring.

The CJEU underlines the need for indefinite contracts for public employees with long temporary contracts

The Spanish government and its response to the CJEU ruling

The Minister for Digital Transformation and Public Service, José Luis Escrivá, has indicated that the government is awaiting the judicial resolution to adapt, if necessary, the regulatory framework. Escrivá highlighted the measures already implemented by the Executive to stop these abuses, including the stabilization processes that have made some 350.000 temporary public employees indefinitely and the upcoming elimination of the replacement rate in public job offers for 2025..

This context underlines the complexity and urgency of the situation. The CJEU rulings insist on the need for structural and not merely palliative solutions. The transformation of temporary contracts into permanent ones is a necessary measure to guarantee job stability and compliance with European standards in Spain.

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