The labor reform has impacted employment figures like an elephant in a china shop. A first general analysis leaves a clear effect: permanent contracting has skyrocketed (367% in May compared to the same month of the previous year) while temporary contracts have decreased, to a lesser extent, but also significantly (35 % also in May in year-on-year terms). This pattern has been repeating itself since last January, and with even greater intensity since April, when the transitional period for contractual news ended.
After the reform there are more permanent workers, no one can deny that, but are these workers the same as before? Arguably not. Of the three types of permanent workers that exist – full-time, part-time and permanent discontinuous – it is the latter that are clearly being used more than the others by employers. Two data evidence this: full-time permanent jobs grew by 205% in May compared to the same month last year; those of part-time, 331% and the discontinuous permanent ones a whopping 1,199% (they have gone from signing 20,349 to 248,996). In addition, of the historical record of permanent contracts in a single month registered in last May (730,427), the majority were permanent discontinuous (248,996), followed by permanent full-time (215,836) and part-time (174,595).
This success of the discontinuous fixed lines has not taken long to generate misgivings, above all, among those opposed to the labor reform. After knowing these hiring figures in May, the new leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, summed up these misgivings by directly accusing the Government of “make-up” the data, considering that the success of indefinite hiring is due to the pull of the discontinuous permanent contracts that , according to their criteria, do not appear on the unemployment lists when they are not employed all the time.
Is Feijoo right? Is it a makeup of the figures? The official response from the Ministry of Labor is clear: there is no make-up since the statistical accounting of these contracts has been the same since 1985. For this reason, since there has been no change, if now the fact that the discontinuous permanent contracts do not appear automatically in the unemployment record for their periods of inactivity is considered a make-up, this would also have existed when the PP governed, they argue.
This does not mean that permanent intermittent workers do not appear on the lists of those registered with the public employment services, because they do, but in a different category from that of unemployed registered (which are those who appear in the monthly statistics as unemployed) and who are called unemployed job seekers (known in statistical jargon as give us). And, within this qualification, they are framed in the category of employed applicants or with an employment relationship.
Thus, the discontinuous permanent employees, when they are not active, appear in this section as job seekers, that is, with a registered job demand in force, for three reasons: because they receive an unemployment benefit during; because they have registered to use the orientation or training services of the public employment service or, simply, because they request an improvement in employment. Apart from these three circumstances, discontinuous permanent workers should not be registered in the unemployment register.
Together with the discontinuous permanent ones, the recipients of benefits assigned to social collaboration jobs also appear as employed applicants or with an employment relationship; those affected by employment regulation files; eventual subsidized agrarians; those affiliated with Social Security (who demand an improvement in employment); and the agricultural busy plaintiffs.
Thus, the complete list of the SEPE is made up of workers who are completely unemployed, others who are only temporarily unemployed –such as the discontinuous permanent ones, among the others mentioned above– and those who are employed but seek job improvements. In this way, part-time workers (neither permanent nor temporary) with whom some have wanted to equate permanent discontinuous workers do not appear on this list either, unless they sign up to find another job or improve the one they have.
Another thing is that the current registered unemployment statistics do not offer details on the time of activity and inactivity of the discontinuous fixed. But, given the intensity with which these contracts are now being signed, a more detailed record of this category could be appropriate, in order to quantify the amount of employment added to the market.
- differences. The discontinuous fixed contracts have also received these days the qualification of “the new temporary ones”. Although, with the legislation in hand, that would not be correct since, precisely, the difference between a temporary worker and a discontinuous permanent worker is, first of all, the compensation (the former receive 12 days per year worked at the end of their contract and the latter, if they are not called after the period of inactivity by the employer, receive compensation for unfair dismissal). Likewise, discontinuous fixed-rates accumulate seniority throughout their contract.
- More causality. The explosion of discontinuous fixed is due, above all, to the fact that the labor reform, in addition to eliminating work contracts (temporary that could last up to three or four years), has reinforced the causality of temporary. This has forced the existence of more activities that, generally due to seasonality, cannot be framed in another modality other than the discontinuous fixed, so if they were temporary before, it could also be said that they were “false temporary” when they had to have been already fixed discontinuous.