Spain: Commentary to the Case Ruling STSJ Galicia 2660/2023 of 30 May 2010
This ruling has declared null and void an “adherence” remote work agreement drafted by the company and signed by multiple of its workers.
It was deemed invalid because the company did not discuss these remote work agreements with either the Legal Representatives of the Workers/Unions or individually with the affected workers. The Remote Work Law establishes the voluntary nature of remote work, and it needs to be agreed upon either by collective bargaining or by individual negotiation with the affected employees.
By drafting a model of “adherence” in which the employees merely signed to accept the terms without being able to change them and by having elaborated this model without negotiating it with the Legal Representatives of the Workers, the right to union freedom would have been violated, as well as the requirements of the Remote Work Law.
Additionally, the agreement affected multiple aspects of the employment relationship. Among these are:
- Distribution of the working day: 70% remote and 30% on-site.
- Remote work expenses (by stating that the salary of the employees already compensated the expenses and that nevertheless 120€ per year were granted to compensate expenses).
- Equipment for remote work (by obliging the employee to have an internet line).
- Digital disconnection and working hours (by establishing the requirement to answer urgent emails outside working hours).
Because of those, it was also considered that the working conditions of the employees, such as their working day and their right to work-life balance, were unilaterally modified by the company.
Since it is common to use these types of remote work agreements, we recommend the following practices in the case of using “adherence” remote work agreements:
- Make changes to individual agreements to make the negotiation with individual workers apparent.
- Respond to feedback from unions.
- Communicate the agreements to the Legal Representatives of the Workers 10 days before signing them.
In this case, the company PEUGEOT-CITROEN wanted to adopt the remote work agreements resulting from COVID to the new regulation of 2021 of the Remote Work Law by incorporating the mandatory clauses required by law.
However, by not negotiating the agreement and not giving answers to one of the unions concerned, in addition to not giving notice within the legal deadlines of the remote work agreements, the High Court of Justice of Galicia concluded that the company was violating the union freedom of those affected.
In addition, it concluded that the agreements were being used to modify the employees’ working conditions, declaring both the nullity of the model remote work agreement and the right to receive damages for the affected union.