1. What options do employers have and/or what are you seeing in terms of re-opening the workplace e.g. phased returns, rotating shifts, staggered working hours, etc.?
Where remote working is not possible, the return to work must be guided by the principle of minimising risk. The return to work should be orderly and gradual. Activities that involve groupings of people should be the last ones to be restarted.
Where possible, employers should ensure social distancing of two metres between people. Where this isn’t possible, they should take measures such as staggered work schedules, phased returns, rotating shifts, remote working or teleconferences. They should also try to keep employees’ movements, including travel to and from x, to a minimum.
The implementation of these measure should be analysed on a case-by-case basis to asses employment law implications.
2. Does an employer have to give notice to employees to return to the workplace?
The company must give sufficient advance notice to employees working remotely. However, there are no specific regulations on this issue, so it should be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Where the employer has temporarily suspended employment contracts, it must comply with the terms that were agreed with the employees in question.
3. Is an employer obliged to consult with employees/representatives about the return to work process?
When the company is allowed to restart its activity, it must inform workers’ representatives and employees of the resumption of activity and the return to the workplace. If the company's decision to stop the activity or to implement remote working was taken without negotiation with the employees' legal representatives, the employer does not need to consult them regarding the return-to-work.
Nevertheless, the government-approved Guide to Good Practice in Workplaces (the Guide) obliges companies to implement a contingency plan which must identify risks in different job positions and adopt protection measures. This plan should be subject to consultation with workers' representatives.
4. Are there any requirements or recommendations for employees to wear or employers to provide masks or other protective equipment in the workplace?
The use of Individual Protection Equipment is not always mandatory. The Guide states that it is not essential to wear a mask during working hours provided that:
- the type of work does not require it; and
- the employees are able to work maintaining the minimum social distance of two meters.
Nevertheless, the Guide also states that employers must have an adequate supply of individual protection equipment, especially gloves and masks, for staff to use when directed to do so by the external prevention service, specifically for those most exposed (company doctors and nurses, cleaning staff and staff working with the public).
5. When can business travel resume and what are the key considerations for employers?
The Guide states that business travels and trips should be avoided where possible, for example where conference calls can be held instead. At this stage, the movement of persons in Spain is still restricted, so there must be a good justification for travel, and public transport should be avoided wherever possible.
6. If schools remain closed, can working parents continue to work from home?
It is preferable for employees to continue with remote working, where possible, during the three-month period after the end of the national state of alarm.
In addition, employees are entitled to adapt their employment conditions (e.g. flexible working hours, change of shifts, changes to working schedule). Employees may reduce their working schedule up to 100%. This right will also apply for three months after the end of the state of alarm.