Collective agreements in Spain: all you need to know

collective agreements

Labour relations, i.e. relations between companies and workers, are framed within Labour Law and regulated through the Spanish Constitution, international treaties, EU law, laws and regulations, and collective agreements, as well as additional sources.

What is a collective agreement?

A collective agreement is a legally binding agreement made between management and workers which complements the Workers’ Statute in defining the particular characteristics of the labour relations.

These agreements outline in detail the rights and obligations of workers and companies where these rights and obligations lie outside the scope of the Workers’ Statute.

Thus the collective agreement becomes a very useful instrument with the capacity to regulate very specific aspects that affect a particular group, while it does not apply to others. For example, the agreement made for a particular sector may establish the need to provide breaks to give workers’ eyes a rest from screens. A provision that in other sectors (for example, in the bakery sector) would not feature as a general regulation.

Types of collective agreements

Depending on their field of application, two types of collective agreement may be distinguished: the sectoral collective agreement and the company collective agreement.

Sectoral collective agreements are all those which apply to one sector of economic activity, for example, the metal industry.

Furthermore, the scope of the agreements may be:

1. National
2. Specific to an Autonomous Community
3. Provincial
4. Interprovincial 
5. Regional or local 
6. Specific to a company

National agreements

These agreements apply to the whole of Spain and they are published in Spain’s Official State Gazette (BOE).

Agreements specific to an Autonomous Community

These agreements apply to an Autonomous Community with respect to a particular sector.

Provincial agreements

These agreements apply to a province with respect to a particular sector.

Interprovincial agreements

These agreements apply to several provinces, either in the same Autonomous Community or in different regions.

Regional or local agreements

These agreements apply either to a specific place or a region with respect to a particular economic activity.

Specific agreements for companies

Company collective agreements apply to a particular company, groups of companies or specific places of work. If the company operates throughout Spain, this agreement is also published in the Official State Gazette. If, on the other hand, the company’s field of operation is limited to an Autonomous Community or a province, the agreement will be published in the corresponding gazette.

In the negotiation of the agreements, the participants are the representatives of the trade unions and the business groups that have a level of representation of at least 10% in the geographical area covered by the agreement.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that the most specific agreement will always be applied, in other words, the provincial agreement will take precedence over the national agreement, and a company agreement over a provincial agreement.

How is a collective agreement negotiated?

The participants in the negotiation of an agreement are, on the one hand, the workers’ representatives, and on the other, the company’s representatives.

Depending on the type of agreement, the works committees or staff representatives and the trade union branches are responsible for representing the workers.

Furthermore, and also depending on the type of agreement (national, Autonomous Community, etc.), business groups and even the entrepreneur him or herself can take part in the negotiation.

When one of the two parties (the party representing the workers or the employers) wishes to begin to negotiate the agreement, they must inform the other party in writing.

Once this communication has been made, the negotiating committee is set up within a maximum of one month and a negotiation schedule or plan is established.

During the negotiation, both parties negotiate and they can also agree to the intervention of a mediator, who they will appoint.

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What does a collective agreement regulate?

A collective agreement can regulate a great many aspects of the employment relationship. However, the most common aspects are 7 in number:

  1. Number of days worked a year in the sector.
  2. Annual holiday.
  3. Paid and unpaid leave.
  4. Probationary periods.
  5. Periods of notice.
  6. Job classification.
  7. Minimum salaries for each category.

Moreover, fulfilment of what is established in the agreement is obligatory.

Validity of an agreement

For a collective agreement to be valid, it must be formalised in writing and presented to the pertinent labour authority. In this way, it is registered within a maximum of fifteen days from the date on which it was signed, and then it is published within a maximum of twenty days in Spain’s Official State Gazette (BOE) or, depending on its geographical scope, in the Official Gazette of the Autonomous Community or the province covered by the agreement.

It is important to remain in line with the obligations established by the agreements at all times and to stay abreast of any update.

At Rosclar we can help and advise you on the following aspects:

 Setting up a new company: We can pinpoint the agreement that would apply depending on the activity of the company and its special characteristics.
• New place of work: If you have to create a new place of work, we can advise you on whether you need to begin to apply a new agreement for the new recruitments.
• Transfer of employees: We can advise you on what conditions must be applied in the event that you change the place where the activity is undertaken.
• New employees working remotely: If you have to hire employees to work remotely, we can advise you on which collective agreement would apply to them.
• Monitoring and consultancy: Whenever the agreement is updated or modified, we ensure that the company continues to fulfil the obligations established in the new agreement.

For this purpose, Rosclar regularly ensures that the company always uses the latest salary scales available. Furthermore, Rosclar has a member of its staff who also performs this task on a centralised basis, and this policy of double checking provides extra security.

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