Employment - Legislative and case law developments

22 April 2024

1. European Parliament approves the AI Act: significant impact on employment laws

The Artificial Intelligence Act sets harmonised rules for the development, deployment and use of AI systems in the EU. It protects the rights of workers and citizens, and impacts all stages of employment, from recruitment to contract termination.

2. Transfers of undertakings: a substantial modification of working conditions cannot be used by a new employer to by-pass existing commitments

The Supreme Court has prohibited a company from removing a variable remuneration that workers were receiving from their previous employer (i.e. the company that was taken over). It could not be included as a substantial modification of working conditions on the ground that it had become an acquired right for the workers.

3. Article 89.3 of the Spanish Workers’ Statute and the proportionality rule: guaranteeing the legitimacy of collective bargaining agreements

The Supreme Court has reiterated the importance of following the proportionality rule for collective bargaining agreements and therefore votes should be calculated by taking into account how many entities/individuals each bargaining committee member represents. This is the only way to guarantee that everyone – including the minority who may disagree – must comply with the agreement (erga omnes).

4. Supreme Court upholds employer’s decision to require security guards to wear ties

The Supreme Court has upheld an employer’s decision to require its public-facing security guards working in a shopping centre to wear ties during the summer season, stating that the employer has the discretion to make this decision.

5. Breakfast break and 15-minute grace period considered working time

The Supreme Court has ruled that a breakfast break and a 15-minute grace period at the start of the working day must be considered working time. The judgment concludes that a time recording system is an inappropriate mechanism for introducing substantial modifications to working time, much less for disregarding rights enshrined in collective bargaining agreements.

6. Clauses in an administrative contract not expressly agreed to by a successful tenderer do not have any employment effects  

The Supreme Court has held that the technical specifications in an administrative contract that set out fewer working hours than those agreed in the applicable collective bargaining agreement did not give rise to any employment rights and obligations, and therefore the workers could not reduce their total working hours in line with the technical specifications.

Contact lawyers

Juan Reyes

Partner since 2011 Barcelona

Ana Alós

Partner since 2016 Barcelona

Raúl Boo

Partner since 2022 Valencia