Paro in fijo discontinuo contracts: the “right of option” (derecho de opción).

Fijo discontínuo contracts, the contracts most of you should be working under if you don’t have a “contrato fijo”, allow teachers to demand their unemployment benefits if they have a right to them (if they have worked for more than a year) during the summer (or any other period of inactivity).

But, when teachers go to SEPE to ask for their paro, they are asked a question that, in most cases baffles them (and not without cause): “do you want to resume your previous unemployment or start with the latest one?”

I will try to explain it easily in this short article.

The right of option.

All contracts have a special characteristic, which is called the “derecho de opción“.  It is, in my opinion, something done with good intentions, but (again as is often done in Spain) not implemented in the most efficient or simple way. Any extra option in Spain means added complexity and paperwork.

The underlying principle is paro is suspended when you start to work. If you have not collected all the days you were entitled to receive, it will be stored and, when your contract finishes again – and if you have a right to it – you will be given the option to chose to resume this paused paro, or start the new one (and the old is lost). Remember that any one of them might have higher rates, or be of a greater amount of days and so be more beneficial to the worker.

BUT fijo discontinuo contracts are treated specially and the previous paro is not lost.

Fijo discontinuo contracts were designed for workers who work for companies with periods of inactivity. While the company has no work for them their contract is suspended (not ended), they receive a finiquito (always) and they can start using the paro they’ve accumulated during all the time they’ve worked (if it has been 12 months or more).

Fijo discontinuo workers will always be asked which paro they prefer to receive, the one from before they started to work (which was suspended while he was working) or the new one which has been created during this last period of activity. If he choses to resume the previously suspended paro, the new days which have been accumulated while he was working are not lost, and can be used in a future period of inactivity.

So, basically, all these periods of activity (I think they only count the last 2, but I’m not sure of that), if the add up to more than a year, create a new right to paro which will for part of the option given to you when you have to demand your unemployment.

More info:

By the way, fijo discontinuo contracts cannot get paro while working with part time contracts (other types of contracts can combine paro and part time jobs).

What does it imply for teachers.

In most cases teachers will be restarting their previous job. So the main questions they should ask SEPE is

  • how many days they’ve got left in each option.
  • what happens if he choses the new paro (I’m pretty sure the other one is lost).

If we consider teachers working for a whole year they will accumulate a right to receive 4 months of paro (there are tables to calculate this). More than enough for two summers. So you can resume the previous paro in most cases and leave the new one for a future occasion.

But imagine someone who has been working for 2 years in a row. Fijo discountinuo contracts do not need to be suspended (you might have a good year, of summer camps with work all year long). Or you might have started a fijo discontinuo but your last job had lasted for 2 years. Then he starts working again for a year, and then the contract is paused. He will be given the option to chose the first paro (8 months) or the second one (4 months). It makes more sense to finish the 8 month long paro than start the new one. Specially if you are not sure when you will be hired again.

I hope this article helps to clear things things up and, at least to know which questions to ask at SEPE when you are given the choice.

Btw: you don’t have to chose immediately, you have 10 days to do so. But I see no sense in delaying the choice, specially when asking for an appointment is so difficult nowadays.

NB: I’m not an expert, just someone who likes to be informed …So the information here should not be taken rigurously and you should allways confirm it with an expert. I will gladly ammend anything that is proven wrong, as these articles are here to inform people.
NB2: they are written in a hurry (my time is scarce), and I know you all are English teachers (I am not). So excuse any grammar mistakes. In this case I willingly sacrifice perfections to get the article out there.

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