Significant technological advances now enable workers to perform their responsibilities from home, without needing to go into the office. This new model presents novel options of flexible working. In the Labour Law reform in 2012, Spain regulated teleworking for the first time, which has triggered companies to design flexible working hours or to agree to part-time contracts.
In Spain there is no right to work flexibly, only the right to request reduction of working hours in certain cases. However, it is more and more common to see cases where employers and workers agree on types of contract that allow for some flexibility regarding working hours.
The Labour Reform 2012 defined teleworking as work mainly carried out in the employee's home or any other place chosen by the employee other than the company's premises. In relation to this new type of contract it should be noted that:
- It can be agreed under the initial employment agreement or it can be set up voluntarily later
- All questions concerning work equipment, liability and costs should be clearly defined before starting telework
- Teleworkers are entitled to the same rights as comparable workers at the employers' premises although it is advisable to enter into special agreements taking into account the special characteristics of teleworking
- The employer must inform the teleworker of all relevant legislation and company rules concerning data protection.
A further example of flexibility is the possibility of agreeing on a part-time employment contract, which is defined as one where employees are working less than the ordinary working day of a full-time employee.
This type of contract is also used in cases of partial retirement. Partial retirement enables the employee to retire for a percentage of time (minimum of 25% and maximum of 75%), and receive the state pension for that portion, and continue working for the remaining portion. It requires the execution of a new contract to substitute the portion of time when the employee is retired.
Finally, in Spain, the Workers Statute sets out the possibility of working time reduction to support reconciling work and family life. Workers who take care of a child under 12 years of age or who suffers from a disability are entitled to reduce their working hours by between one eighth and one half of the duration of their working day, with the proportionate salary reduction.
Additionally, it will also be possible to request a reduction in working hours for workers who are directly taking care of relatives (up to a second degree of kinship) who, due to age, disease or accident, are not capable of taking care of themselves and do not perform any paid activity. The extent of the reduction in working hours is determined by the worker, within the normal working day.
Recent case law tends to support the reduction of working hours and, in general, all measures that favour flexible working and the reconciliation of work and personal life.