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CaixaBank to axe 3,000 staff

CaixaBank, Spain's biggest in terms of assets, said on Monday it plans to slash around 3,000 jobs or 10 percent of its workforce as part of a restructuring, the latest in a string of staff cuts by lenders.

CaixaBank to axe 3,000 staff
Caixabank's network grew by over 1,000 branches in 2012 but the bank is now looking to slash staff numbers. Photo: Martin Abegglen

The Barcelona-based bank said the restructuring was needed following the purchase of smaller rivals Banca Cívica and Banco de Valencia which has caused its staffing levels to soar.

"In order to adapt to the current environment and improve the efficiency of resources, and following the recent integration of the savings group formed by Banca Cívica and the forthcoming incorporation of Banco de Valencia, CaixaBank considers it necessary to carry out a restructuring plan," it said.

"The implementation of this restructuring will affect some 3,000 employees," the bank added in a statement, adding it would negotiate the exact amount of layoffs with unions.

CaixaBank bought Banca Cívica and rescued lender Banco de Valencia last year, although the latter has not yet been fully integrated.

It had 32,625 employees at the end of 2012, compared with nearly 27,000 a year earlier, while its network grew by over 1,000 branches.

Caixabank's net profit plunged 78.2 percent to €230 million ($312 million) in 2012 over the previous year as a result of having to make greater provisions to cover potential real-estate losses.

Spain's real estate market crashed in 2008, leaving lenders awash with bad loans and prompting a wave of consolidation and hefty job losses in the sector.

Last month Spanish bank workers staged nationwide protests over the thousands of layoffs in the industry and against the top executives they hold responsible.

Spain's banking sector shed over 28,000 jobs from 2008 to 2011, according to the Bank of Spain.

Banks employed 243,041 people in 2011, the last year figures are available, down from 270,855 in 2008. Meanwhile, the number of branches had dropped to 39,843 in 2011 from 45,662 in 2008.

Unions predict the bank sector will shed 20,000 more jobs over the next five years.

Earlier this month bailed-out bank Bankia announced it would slash 4,500 jobs.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last year secured an agreement for a European Union rescue loan of up to €100 billion ($130 billion) to fix the banks's balance sheets, and a first slice of €37 billion has already been pumped into stricken banks.

CaixaBank was born July 1, 2011, when Caixa savings bank group listed its retail banking activities.

Banca Civica also made its debut in July 2011 after it was formed from the merger in 2010 of the regional savings banks Caja Navarra, Cajasol, Caja de Burgos and CajaCanarias.

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Do I have to take most of my annual leave in August in Spain?

Many Spanish companies still expect their workers to take their holidays at specific times of the year, primarily in August, right in the height of summer when many hotels are fully booked. So what are your rights, are you obliged to take your vacation in one particular month?

Do I have to take most of my annual leave in August in Spain?

While it’s your right as an employee to be able to take holiday days, do you have to take them when your company wants you to take them, or are you able to choose and have more flexibility?

Despite August being one of the hottest months in Spain and the one month of the year when many official companies and offices shut up shop, not everyone necessarily wants to take their break at the same time as everyone else.

Taking your holidays in August means less availability in hotels, overcrowding and more expensive transport and accommodation. If you don’t have children who are off from school during the summer months, then you may wish to take your vacation days at another time of the year, when it’s less busy and cheaper.

To answer the question it’s important to know the details about what the law says about how paid time off is taken, requested, imposed, or granted.

What laws or regulations dictate the rules about paid holiday time?

There are three different sets of rules and regulations, which are responsible for regulating the laws on vacation time in Spain. 

Firstly, you need to look at the Spanish Workers’ Statute, which includes rights, duties and obligations applicable to all salaried workers in Spain.

Secondly, you need to be aware of the collective sector and/or company agreements, which may dictate the rules for a particular industry for example.

Thirdly, you need to look at the contract, which you signed with your employer when you started working for them. This sets out your individual circumstances and the rules you must abide by.   

Workers Statute

As a general rule, all employees are subject to the Workers’ Statute. Holidays are part of this and are the subject of article 38. These conditions can never be contradicted by individual companies and are set as a guaranteed minimum. 

The minimum number of holidays in Spain is 30 calendar days per year. This equals two and a half days per month worked, in the case of temporary contracts. The statute states that vacations must be taken between January 1st and December 31st in separate periods, but one of them must be for at least two weeks. They are always paid and cannot be exchanged for financial compensation.

The period when you can take them is set by a common agreement between the employer and the worker, in accordance with what is established in the collective agreements on annual vacation planning. If there is disagreement, the social jurisdiction is resorted to.

At a minimum, the company must offer vacation days at least two months before the beginning of the holiday period, so that the employee has time to organise and book.   

When the planned time to take vacations coincides with a temporary disability, pregnancy, or childbirth, you have the right to enjoy the vacations at another time, even after the calendar year is over.

Collective agreements on vacations  

Your sector’s collective agreements may also help to answer this question. These aim to improve upon the basic and general rights that are included in the Workers’ Statute. They seek to adapt the rules to each type of industry or company. They could, for example, set out extra vacation days, which are greater than the standard 30 calendar days. 

You will need to find out what your specific sector or company’s collective agreement is. There is a possibility that your sector or company has mandatory summer vacations for the month of August and in that case, you can choose vacation dates, but only within this month.

Your work contract 

Lastly, you will need to consult your individual contract which you signed with the company when you were hired.  As well as the minimum conditions set out in the Workers’ Statute, your contract sets out your particular agreement with your employer in terms of holiday duration, the work calendar and other details.

Therefore, you should state in your contract whether you have to take your holidays during August, or if you’re free to take them at other times of the year.

If after consulting these three sets of regulations and there are still in doubt or in disagreement with your company about vacations, such as having to take them during the month of August, you should consult a lawyer specialising in labor law. They should be able to give you an answer specific to your situation.  

Can I appeal or disagree and what are the consequences? 

To appeal or express disagreement with what is proposed by the company, there is a period of 20 business days from when the vacation schedule is sent out, after which time you don’t have the right to show that you disagree.  

Companies can proceed to disciplinary dismissals due to abandonment of the job if you decide to take vacations that have not been granted or agreed upon with your employer. To avoid this type of problem, always make sure you have a record in writing of your request for vacation time and subsequent approval by the company.

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