In a 12 June 2021 judgment,(1) the high court ruled on whether the defendant company had breached its duty to negotiate the holiday schedule and, consequently, had violated the unions' right to freedom of association.

The case arose after a company agreed with the trade unions before the Interconfederal Mediation and Arbitration Service (SIMA) on 8 June 2020 that the holiday schedule for 2021 would be established before 31 December 2020.

However, without any prior negotiation with the workers' legal representatives, the company informed its employees on 12 March 2021 of the dates in which paid leave would have to be taken in 2021.

As a result, the unions filed many collective dispute claims, wherein they requested the annulment of the 2021 holiday notice that had been sent by the company to the workforce.

The unions believed that paid leave must be negotiated with the workers' legal representatives and that, since these proceedings had not taken place – contrary to what had been agreed before the SIMA, the right to freedom of association had been infringed, specifically regarding the possibility of collective negotiation.

The court stated that the commitment that had been made by the parties before the SIMA invited both parties to negotiate the holiday schedule before 31 December 2020. In this sense, the court considered that the commitment made concerned both parties and that, since there is no evidence of the unions proposing any further negotiations, both the company and the unions were to blame for not having established a holiday schedule for 2021.

In addition, the high court stated that:

negotiating does not necessarily require an agreement be reached, but rather that consultations are established between the parties in good faith with the objective of achieving a solution to any given dispute.

Therefore, the court concluded that the holiday schedule set by the company was valid, and that there had not been an infringement of the fundamental right to freedom of association as regards the possibility of collective negotiation. Therefore, the trade unions should not receive compensation.

On this basis, the high court dismissed the claims brought by the unions and acquitted the company of the claims brought against it.

For further information on this topic please contact Elena Esparza or María José Ramosat CMS Albiñana & Suarez de Lezo by telephone (+34 91 451 9300) or email ([email protected] and [email protected]). The CMS Albiñana & Suarez de Lezo website can be accessed at


(1) ES:AN:2021:2762.