patronal y sindicatos alt

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There are several indicators of economic recovery. One such indicator relates to the guidelines and recommendations that employers and unions give their representatives (on the one hand, companies, and on the other, works council members, and union and trade delegates) about which factors are desirable in the negotiated collective agreements governing labor relations in companies.

In this context, on July 18, the Fourth Employment and Collective Bargaining Agreement (“ECBA”) was published, signed with the consensus of the main business associations (the Spanish Confederation of Employers’ Organizations and the Spanish Confederation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) and the most representative national unions (the Workers’ Commissions and the Spanish General Union of Workers).

The main development is the proposal to increase salaries by up to 3% and to apply a minimum wage per agreement of €1,000/month (in 14 payments), in an economic context where this improvement will likely be tempered by real inflation, which has doubled in two years due to rising oil prices, among other reasons (the ECB expects inflation to stabilize at 1.7% in the Eurozone).

Below we summarize the main developments of the Fourth ECBA for 2018, 2019 and 2020, which are mandatory (not normative):

  1. Wage increase for each year the agreement is valid:
  • Fixed portion of approximately 2%.
  • Variable portion of 1% associated with the concepts of each agreement (i.e., evolution of productivity, results, unjustified absenteeism), based on quantified, measurable indicators known to the company and the workforce.
  • Progressive increase of the agreement’s minimum wage, until reaching €14,000 per year in 2020.
  • This growth will be part of the existing collective agreements, linked to their renewal.
  • Also, the public administrations are urged to consider this criterion in the hiring practices established in Spanish Act 9/2017, on Public Procurement.


  1. Promoting the update and renewal of collective agreements through the articulation of rules of validity, extended validity, and negotiating procedure.

The need for the expired agreement to be maintained for the mutually agreed duration of the negotiation process is indicated. Failing that, the parties may resort to autonomous conflict resolution systems, such as mediation or arbitration.


  1. Issues to negotiate with the Spanish government.

The agreement’s signatories have also agreed to10 subjects to be addressed with tripartite scope (employers, unions and government):

  • Amending article 42 of the Spanish Workers Statute, which regulates the subcontracting of works and services. There is a proposed bill to modify article 42 Spanish Workers Statute, presented by the Socialist Group, which is currently in the amendment phase at the Spanish parliament; it aims to equate the working conditions of the employees at the contractor company with those of the employees at the main company when it subcontracts its own activity.
  • Measures designed to maintain employment, favoring alternatives to dismissal
  • Professional training and qualification
  • Absenteeism
  • Compulsory retirement via collective agreement
  • Fight against the underground economy
  • Relief contract
  • Equal pay and rights to work-family balance
  • Arbitration procedure for the start of benefits


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Abogada del Área de Conocimiento e Innovación de Cuatrecasas. Profesora colaboradora en ESADE