The scholarship status continues to simmer. The latest proposal from the Ministry of Labor has received the approval of the UGT and CC OO unions, but the employers CEOE and Cepyme have still not signed it. The positions between the social workers have come closer after the meeting they held on Monday, but there remain two major obstacles to having the new framework signed by the employers: the disappearance of extracurricular practices (volunteer work not linked to training) in the next three years and the presumption of employment, the cases in which training contracts can be signed. The CEOE and the Cepyme have asked for these articles to be reformulated – they are a red line for the unions -, and Labor has promised to adapt it in a new proposal which will be presented at a future undated meeting, as the confirmed the trading sources. The government has spent months refining this rule with social agents, with whom it intends to regulate training periods and their relationship to work, while seeking to stop irregular scholarships as a formula for getting a job and with the simulation of relationships of work.
“We are still at the table while waiting for the new text presented by the government”, recognizes a source from the employers. Although the negotiation on the Status of persons in practical training in the field of business —that’s what it’s called formally—it’s taking much longer than expected by all parties —the first meetings took place in April and then it was expected that the agreement would be finalized before summer to be able to deploy in September, after the summer holidays – the differences are not so pronounced between the parties. However, there are nuances that prevent the text from being definitively resolved. “We share with the Government and the unions the need to frame the figure of the intern in order to grant him more guarantees, in the logic that internships cannot, in any case, replace jobs”, recognizes a source CEOE.
The great point of contention, not only for employers, but also for university rectors, is the exclusion of external academic practices, the so-called extracurriculars. Something that the unions deem essential, since they point out that it is in them that the greatest number of false trainees is concentrated. The new framework indicates that these extracurricular practices will cease to be applicable “on the expiry of a period of three years from the entry into force of this rule”. This is the margin that Labor has given so that there is time for them to be included in study plans. “That’s where the problem is,” they acknowledge from CC OO.
“The ministry has agreed to propose certain changes to the current text, including more flexible proposals on what is collected on extracurricular practices. We have not positioned ourselves, insofar as we have accepted the current text and if there is to be a change, it cannot be a major change, but until we have seen the proposal materialized and written , we cannot give an opinion”, they indicate.
The work proposal, to which EL PAÍS has had access, also indicates that the existence of an employment relationship will be presumed when the activity carried out by the trainee “replaces the functions of a person employed by the company”. And also when it refers to “jobs or professional activities that do not require special qualifications, practical knowledge or experience”. Entrepreneurs believe that these assumptions can contribute to generating “legal uncertainty” and require reformulation.
The Ministry’s objective with Monday’s meeting, which was chaired by the Secretary of State for Employment, Joaquín Pérez-Rey, and which lasted more than three hours, was to “give a definitive impetus to the negotiation with the intention that an agreement is reached which includes all the parties”, recognizes a Labor source. “Today they showed a little more will,” he added.
Limit of 20% of scholarship holders and coverage of expenses
One of the knots of the new text that seems to have been undone is the one that established a maximum number of trainees that a company could have at the same time. Despite the fact that the text delimits the use of the trainee’s employment figure, specifying that “in no case may the number of people in practical training exceed 20% of the total workforce of the company”. Faced with this condition, he sheltered a safeguard: “Any company can organize practical training for two, regardless of the number of people in the workforce.” That is to say that small businesses, the majority in the economic fabric of the country, will not be harmed by this percentage limitation.
Within the new legal ecosystem for workers in training, other aspects also stand out, such as the obligation for companies and universities to pay a minimum contribution for the student internship; that the assigned tasks must adapt to the content contained in the individual training plan; or that the company bears the expenses incurred by the trainee.
“The text we have on the table advances enormously on three fundamental points: it pursues and puts an end to the main forms of fraud created around this figure; It perfectly defines the boundary between training action and productive work with a well-defined field of application; and it grants a very important and avant-garde catalog of rights in our country, in line with what Europe is asking for (compensation for expenses, contributions, individualized training plan, etc.), estimated the UGT, providing its support for the text presented by Trabajo. Despite the progress of the negotiations, none of the social agents dares to ensure that the new status can be agreed to three at the next meeting.
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