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Illegal overtime 'costs Spain 273,000 jobs'

Illegal overtime 'costs Spain 273,000 jobs'

Published on: 20 Nov 2014 17:14 CET

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Spain's unemployment rate is 23.7 percent and 5,427,000 people are out of work, according to the latest figures from the country's national statistics office, the INE.

Despite that, Spaniards worked a staggering 10.2 million hours a week in illegal overtime in the third quarter of 2014, the figures show.

With the full-time working week being 40 hours plus two optional hours of overtime, that's the equivalent of 273,315 full-time jobs. If you take the average working week of Spaniards, currently 35.8 hours, that figure is even higher at 286,284 jobs.

Now Spain's Socialists are hoping to change all that with a motion to be presented in Spain's parliament on Thursday.

Among the measures they'd like to see are a stop on extra hours being worked in exchange for time off until Spain's unemployment rate drops below 15 percent.

While the party don't want to do away with overtime altogether— "A lot of people do them because they need to," party sources told Spain's el diario newsite — they do want to make sure those hours are paid, and the time-in-lieu system is very difficult to control.

The Socialists also want working hours specified in all employment contracts with contracts defaulting to full time if no hours are specified.

Also on the agenda is a rollback of the Spanish government's 2013 labour reforms which gave employers far greater freedom in how they will assign working hours. Under the new regime, part-time workers can end up working as much as 90 percent of a full-time contract and can be asked to work extra hours with as little as three days notice.

Figures from the OECD show Spaniards work an average of 1,665 hours a year, or more than the Germans, the Dutch and the Swiss.

According to figures from the European Commission, however, Germany has a productivity rate of over €42 ($54) per hour while Spain lags well behind with only €32 ($41). 

The Spanish organization Arhoe has long campaigned for a rationalization of Spanish working hours, fighting against the culture of ''presentismo', or simply being in the office.

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