The days of exploitation and job insecurity may be numbered as Spain’s new Employment Minister promises changes.  Magdalena Valerio says her plans to outlaw sweatshops will, “deal with the deteriorating work conditions which characterise our labour market.”

The draft of her proposals is presently being considered by interested parties but the final version is expected to come into effect this summer.  PM Pedro Sánchez described its 75 measures as a “turnaround” in employment policies.

These are expected to outlaw unjustified and abusive temporary contracts, fraudulent self-employed workers, excessive working hours and illegal overtime, as well as discrimination on the grounds of gender, race or age.  It is also intended to enhance risk prevention and to target fraud and the black economy.

In addition, the government says employers should expect more unannounced visits from workplace inspectors who will visit premises at night, during weekends and on holidays, when illegal working is more likely to be undertaken. Alongside this, there is to be a general revision of penalties which can be imposed, with harsher punishments in certain areas, particularly with regard to abusive temporary employment.  The Minister believes that current penalties have, “lost their deterrent effect.”

The government estimates that in the first quarter of this year, 6.4 million overtime hours were worked every week in Spain, of which 2.8 million – almost 44 per cent – went unpaid.  It adds that the commerce, manufacturing, hospitality and education sectors are the worst offenders.