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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for case ES-2021-5/1773 – measures in Spain

Fourth tripartite agreement in defense of employment

IV Acuerdo Social en Defensa del Empleo

Country Spain , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 26 January 2021 – 31 May 2021
Type Tripartite agreements
Category Employment protection and retention
– Income support for people in employment (e.g. short-time work)
Author Oscar Molina (UAB) and Eurofound
Case created 09 February 2021 (updated 10 February 2021)

Background information

On 19 January 2021, the IV Social Agreement in Defense of Employment was reached, whose content reflects precisely the trust between social partners and the government in the measures that, since 1 October 2020, have helped the economy to sustain employment levels. The terms of agreement have been included in Royal Decree 2/2021 imply an extension of the measures that were reflected in the III ASDE, although with an important simplification in management terms for the companies benefiting from the measures contained therein.

Content of measure

The tripartite agreement contemplates the extension of all Temporary Employment Regulation Files (ERTE) based on causes related to COVID-19.

Within these ERTE, exemptions are once again recognised for companies that are already in ERTE and belong to sectors with a high coverage rate for them and a low activity recovery rate, although more generous objective criteria are used to determine these sectors, which gives rise to the incorporation of new NACEs, which imply that companies that employ almost 50,000 more workers are protected.

The ERTE also have simplified administrative procedures to facilitate and speed up their application. This has been the main change in relation to previous agreements.

Use of measure

There is no data available on the use of this policy measure.


  • Employment retention

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Applies to all workers Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Trade unions
Employers' organisations
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative
Form Direct consultation outside a formal body Direct consultation outside a formal body

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Social partners jointly
  • Main level of involvement: Peak or cross-sectoral level


Social partners and the government started negotiations to extend the temporary lay-off mechanisms as the end of the third extension was approaching. They reached an agreement that was transposed into law.

Views and reactions

Social partners have been totally supportive of this measure.



Eurofound (2021), Fourth tripartite agreement in defense of employment, case ES-2021-5/1773 (measures in Spain), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.