• Discontinuous fixed contracts in education shoot up 116% in a year despite not being allowed

Although the number of unemployed in Spain has fallen by 10,968 people in the month of July, the number of discontinuous fixed registered to Social Security has fallen by 114,341 people when going from being working to inactive, most of them being employees of the education sector. Although they have stopped working and in some cases will be collecting unemployment benefit, they do not count as unemployed because they have a job waiting for them.

Within those discontinuous fixed contracts that ceased to be registered in July, some could be workers whose discontinuous fixed contract has been terminated, in which case they will have lost their jobs and could be counted as unemployed if they have gone to sign up for the SEPE lists; but most are workers who have become inactive and that the Sepe classifies not as unemployed, but as employed job seekers: people who are looking for a job despite having an employment relationship in force.

This group has grown in the month of July by 86,957 people, to 1,140,839, something that experts attribute to the destruction of jobs that has occurred in the education sector, with a predominance of discontinuous permanent workers.

"The education sector is among those in which more discontinuous permanent contracts have been signed. These people have now become inactive, they are not working, they are registered in the unemployment registers but do not count as unemployed but are registered as job seekers with an employment relationship, hence the number of employed job seekers has increased by almost 87,000 people in July, "explained Valentín Bote, director of Randstad Research and associate professor of Fundamentals of Economic Analysis at the Autonomous University of Madrid.

This expert points out that "although it seems that unemployment is going very well, the 'effective unemployment' [which includes workers in ERTE and also discontinuous fixed without activity] gives a very different reading, of about 3.2 million together compared to 2.6 million unemployed. There are 4.3 million job seekers and in the last year they have only been reduced by 5,800 people, while unemployment has been reduced by 200,000. The trend is very different."

Florentino Felgueroso, Fedea researcher and associate professor at the University of Oviedo, stressed that there have been "three activities" that stand out for registering the greatest variation in affiliation in July: the education sector, due to the closure for holidays, with "discontinuous fixed that do not swell the registered unemployment"; retail trade, due to the holiday season, and health activities, in which many hires are made in summer to replace staff who go on vacation. Since those who are on vacation are still registered with Social Security, the same job gives rise to two affiliates, he says.

Education fraud

The education sector has been the one that has destroyed the most employment in the month, due to the tradition that exists in Spain of dispensing with teachers and other workers associated with the academic world at the end of the course, in June / July, and rehiring them at the beginning of the next, in September / October, to save the payment of vacations from which workers in other sectors benefit.

Employment in the number of affiliates to Social Security has grown by 21,945 people in July (less than expected by some experts such as BBVA Research, who predicted 34,800 new affiliates), but in the education sector 115,000 jobs have been destroyed: 110,700 salaried workers and 4,400 self-employed. Of those who are employed, a total of 67,448 are employees with a permanent discontinuous contract who have become inactive; 14,900 had a temporary full-time contract that has been terminated; 10,600 had a temporary part-time contract; and another 14,000 had another type of contract.

In total the education sector employed 1.1 million people during this course, but that figure drops to 924,596 in July, due to the casualties that occur during the summer. These are registered in Social Security, but not in unemployment. Historically, many of the teachers who were laid off at the beginning of the summer did not sign up for unemployment, having the confidence that they would be rehired in September, but some of them did so, thus swelling the unemployment lists.

Now, however, all those who have been hired with the discontinuous fixed modality go into inactivity during the summer and are certain that they will be called back in September, so in no case do they appear on the unemployment lists.

The problem is that the discontinuous fixed contract does not seem suitable for this sector, since it is not an activity with an intermittent and unpredictable activity (such as hospitality in tourist destinations), but has very delimited work times, hence the Government itself has questioned throughout this year the convenience of using this contract in education and has even launched a campaign of the Inspection, focused on this sector, to detect the fraudulent use of the discontinuous fixed.

Who is in the spotlight, curiously, is the public sector since it is the Administrations themselves that are using this contract in the education system. In private education the use of this contract is not allowed, since the national collective agreement of private schools prevents it, a veto that was endorsed this year by the National Court against the claim of the employers of the sector.

"We have launched successive campaigns of discontinuous fixed and thanks to them we have transformed around 53,000 contracts of this type into ordinary, but I think it is too early to give the results in education. The education sector makes use of the discontinuous fixed, improving the conditions that existed when the temporary contract was used, but we must see when the discontinuous fixed is used for activities in which on other occasions the ordinary indefinite is used, "admitted Joaquín Pérez-Rey, Secretary of State for Employment, although he calls to wait "at the beginning of the school year to know how the entries and exits work" to the labor market of these workers.

The Government, in any case, does not see "alarming" that in summer there are casualties of workers in the education sector, since it is something that has happened historically. "Indeed, the month of July is bad in education, which is a particularly feminized sector and, therefore, of the fall of the 115,000 affiliates in education, 81,000 correspond to women. This fall, being very pronounced, is lower than that of previous years, which does not perceive any particularly alarming element beyond reflecting the seasonal component of this type of activity, "said Borja Suárez, Secretary of State for Social Security.

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