The scandalous delay in ERTE payments to employees

The Spanish press has reported the state of near complete collapse of the social security departments handling the payments to individuals whose employment contracts were suspended as part of the ERTE scheme. This scheme enabled employers whose businesses had been closed down by the State of Alarm to suspend employment with the Social Seciurity system paying a basic benefit to replace salaries.

The minister responsible for the department was seen on TV shrugging and saying “I only have two hands”. We are all familiar with public employees shrugging when faced by upset citizens they have been let down, but for a minister of state to do this is particularly significant. Some commentators are now publishing articles making unfortunate references to Chavismo and comparing Spanish politicians with their counterparts in the Venezuelan republic.

Two weeks ago the minister of labour said that every due benefit payment would be made by the end of two weeks, but this has turned out to be an empty promise.

Some families have been totally without income since March and are still waiting for unemployment benefits for March and April.

Thousands all over Spain are having to queue for hours to get emergency food handouts. Sadly, the press hardly covers this kind of news.

That the press has not ripped apart this Government and has allowed the ministers involved with this scandal relatively pain free press conferences, is truly appalling. What circumstances do we need to see before the press starts acting like independent journalists and puts the feet of the Government to the fire?

The establishment of the country seems to regard it as tolerable and even normal that the social security system should have failed to support hundreds of thousands of people affected by the Covid-19 crisis, many of whom were already living a hand to mouth existence. Strangely, even consumer associations have been silent on the topic.

The ERTE claims of our clients seem to have been handled completely randomly. Some employees having been paid in full and other employees of the same business have received nothing.

Most employees who are due enhanced benefits because of children, disability or disabled dependants are only receiving the basic allowances because the social security office insists on double checking all the details before parting with extra money due to these families.

The latest news we have is that the social security office will run a massive batch of benefit payments on 9th June, when we hope everyone will receive what they have been promised.

A sad commentary on a country that is being run by a Government that claims to have a social conscience.

Spence Clarke & Co specialises in the provision of Spanish tax, legal, audit and accountancy services, mainly to foreigners with interests in Spain. Our cross-border knowledge helps clients adapt to the Spanish system with the minimum of doubt and disruption. If you have any questions about this article or any other matter contact us, with no obligation, to see how we can help you.