Parliament staff will be eligible for paid leave from age 60

Bureau's proposal reduces pay but maintains a similar system to age-based leave

3 min
The empty hemicycle of the Parliament, in an archive image.

BarcelonaIn February, Parliament eliminated age-based leave, the system that allowed staff to continue receiving their full salary without working, but left the door open to regulating a similar system based on negotiation with the workers. This Tuesday the Bureau approved the new mechanism, which will have to be validated by a parliamentary committee. It protects exactly the same model which had previously been eliminated: civil servants who have worked for Parliament for a minimum of 15 years will be able to continue drawing their salary despite not working during the last five years before retiring. What changes, then? Basically, the annual amount they will receive. They will no longer receive the amount they would receive if they were working –this will only be the case for people who applied before the rules were changed– and, instead, will receive the same amount as they would if they retired. That is, Parliament will grant paid leave for staff over the age of 60.

The proposal, signed by the head of the human resources department, was approved in a meeting of the extended Parliamentary Bureau –where all parties were present– and must now be taken to the Institutional Affairs Committee (CAI) to be debated and approved. The measure would create two new sorts of leave for parliamentary staff: voluntary incentivised leave and incentivised reduction of working hours, both for people over 60 who have worked for Parliament for at least 15 years. The voluntary leave of absence establishes that civil servants who want to take it will be paid the same amount as they would receive as their pension were they to retire. If they truly retired at 60, their pension would be slashed, but this will not be the case. Parliament will also have to pay their Social Security and other taxes. Currently, the maximum state pension is €2,819.18 per month, a salary to which best-paid civil servants would be entitled.

In order for voluntary leave of absence to come into effect, Article 70 of the statutes of the regime and the internal government of the Parliament must be modified. Currently, point 1 of the article states that the voluntary leave "involves the temporary termination of the employment relationship, without the right to receive remuneration". "The time spent in this situation is not counted as active service time for the purposes of seniority and passive rights," the regulation explains. Now, on the other hand, the point will be modified so that those over 60 years of age on leave may be paid.

As for the reduction of the incentive working day, the text establishes that civil servants who take advantage of it will have access to a "progressive reduction of the working day, from one-sixth when they are five years away from retiring to one-half when there is one year to go", and that they would receive "the total remuneration that corresponds to them in accordance with the job they occupy". In parallel, it explains that they can opt for a 50% reduction of the working day throughout the last five years before retiring. In this case, officials would receive "a percentage of their total remuneration of between 80% and 100%, depending on the time remaining until their forced retirement". Finally, Parliament workers can choose a reduction of a "third of the working day", which has to start at the age of 60 and is maintained for five years, "with the perception of 95% of total remuneration". These regulations would be added to Article 89 of the internal regulations, which currently only regulates a reduction in working hours without loss of remuneration for persons "with a legally recognised disability".

The proposal is not very different from the one promoted by Speaker Laura Borràs, at the end of last year. CUP MP Xavier Pellicer has criticised the agreement claiming it "perpetuates the model of age-based leave": "In a simplified form, they are replaced," he stressed. Then, the full salary was protected for three years instead of five, and the new modality of part-time work from 60 onwards was also added. The human resources department has now put forward a variation of that proposal after discussing it with the staff council.