Pandemic Throws The Second Largest Reduction In Agreed Annual Working Hours

When the pandemic was declared in March last year, employees covered by collective agreements in force at that time were required to work 1,754.56 effective hours per year on average.

Currently, as of July of this year, the 2,246 agreements in force require 1,741.38 hours of effective work per year, which represents a precipitous decrease of 13.2 hours if one takes into account that the agreed annual working day has been reduced by 19.9 hours in total since the beginning of the century in 2000, according to data taken from the collective bargaining statistics of the Ministry of Labor and Social Economy.

If it is compared with the legal maximum working day -40 hours per week-, it assumes that the one agreed last July implies that 85 hours (84.89 hours) less than those required by law are worked on average per year , since the maximum working day transferred to annual terms are equivalent to 1,826.27 hours per year, as stipulated by the Supreme Court in a judgment of September 18, 2007.

Therefore, the 1,741.38 hours currently agreed on average would equal, measured in weeks, a day of 38 , 4 hours compared to the 40 legal maximums.

The reduction in hours worked during Covid represents the second largest decrease in these two decades ; the first occurred in the financial crisis, in 2011, when the agreed annual hours decreased 14.16 hours compared to the previous year, 2010, and stood at 1,737.02 hours.

At the other extreme, the largest increase in working hours in a year was recorded in 2014, the year in which the agreements in force yielded 14.24 fewer hours of work than the previous year.

Focused on 2021
The shift in working hours with the pandemic in the last seventeen months has been concentrated so far this year, since between March and December of the previous 2020 the reduction was only 66 minutes -in terms of the registration of collective agreements- 1.12 hours .

However, between January and July of the present 2021 the agreements in force have reduced the working time by 11.98 hours on average, to those 1,741 hours. However, there has been a slight increase in the agreed working day since last April, when the agreements in force yielded an effective annual working day of 1,738.84, which represents a rebound of 2.54 hours per year, about 150 minutes between January and july.

Specifically, the sharp drop in the agreed working day this year has been focused on the months of January, whose agreed annual working day fell 4.7 hours compared to December 2020; in March 2021, which was reduced by 4.4 hours compared to February, and in April when the annual working day agreed in the agreement was 5.34 hours above the previous month.

Regarding the salaries agreed in the agreement, they rose on average by 1.54% in July, above what was registered at the beginning of the year (+ 1.44%), but below the CPI, whose advanced data places it at the 2.9% in the seventh month of the year. However, the wage increase agreed so far this year has been on a downward path since March , when the rise was 1.58%. In the accumulated it was reduced to 1.55% in April, 1.56% in May and June, and to 1.54% in July.

Until July there are 2,246 agreements registered with economic effects in 2021, but only 235 signed this year. The rest, 2,011, were agreed in previous years, although with effects in 2021.

The company agreements, unchanged
The difference between company and sector agreements is also large in terms of working hours. Employees covered by company workers get a shorter working day, 1,712 hours per year compared to 1,743 hours for those affected by the sector, 31 hours more per year. However, company agreements are practically unchanged since 2000, even the agreed measured working day has registered a slight increase of 1.18 hours.

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