I hear, time and time again, many teachers complaining about being sacked and not agreeing with the conditions. And yet doing nothing but complain to their friends or collegues. It never ceases to amaze me how little do teachers know about their rights. I hope this blog is helping to fill in those gaps… even if it’s only a bit.
Many would think it is ironic that an academy owner, like myself, would be informing teachers about how to fight against their employers. But that kind of mentality is the one many of us want to change. It is not employers against employees, it is not about “us and them“. There is a right way to do things, and a wrong way. A proper way to treat employees, a proper way to hire them, and to fire them (if it comes to that).
Academy owners must do things correctly their (our) end, in order to demand teachers to do all they can on their end.
So, what is the SMAC and how can it help teachers when they have been made redundant?
What is SMAC?
SMAC stands forServicio de Mediación, Arbitraje y Conciliación . It is supposed to be an arbitration and conciliation mechanism between workers and employers. And to act as an attempt, by both parties, to reach an agreemen, as a previous step before going to court.
So it is set up as a way to resolve labour disputes and to avoid judicial intervention.
Who can go to SMAC?
Any employee who has been sacked from his job and does not agree with either the reasons or the conditions, or any employer who hasn’t been able to reach an agreement with someone he wants to fire.
Do you have to go to SMAC?
Yes, it is a compulsory step before going to court. You cannot file a lawsuit about being made redundant without going first to a SMAC arbitration act.
How do I start the process?
The employee has 20 work days from the day he is made redundant and does not agree. If 30 days have passed, it is supposed that there will be SMAC act.
If the employee and the company have a dispute about salary or rights, the worker is given a year (and can only file for the salary of that whole year).
The employee has to send a request either via Internet (using an appropiate certificate) or by filling in the pdf at this link (impresos) and handing it in (with any other documents that might go with it) at any of Madrid’s registry offices or at Correos.
The best option, if you want to hand the form in person, is to go to the Registro del Servicio de Mediación, Arbitraje y Conciliación, S.M.A.C. at C/ Princesa, 5 – ground floor. Visit hours are: Monday to Friday 8:30 to 14:00.
By the way, that is where you will have to go at the given date of your arbitration and conciliation act.
What happens if any of the parties does not attend?
This is one of the issues that really angers me and shows company owners and workers do not have the same rights.
- The employee has 20 days to file the complaint. Then he has some days while the company is informed and answers appropriately.
- The employer (or representative), is given a date and has to attend. Last time it happened to me I had a holiday booked for that week and had to send someone on my behalf, as I wasn’t given the option to change the date.
- If the employee does not attend the arbitration act, it is suspended as if it had not been filed.
- If the employer does not attend, it is considered that the act was celebrated but no agreement was reached. And, if the worker files a lawsuit, the company will have to run with the costs if deemed guilty.
What happens in a SMAC arbitration act?
In most cases an (economic) agreement is reached between both parties. That way both avoid the costs and delay of a lawsuit.
This is how it goes: before the act the lawyers of both parties talk to see if there’s an agreement. If they won’t agree the act will start and they will be asked again to try and reach one. At any of those moments an offer can be made by both parties.
In some cases employee and employeer will not see eye to eye and the act will and “without an agreement”. In that case, the employee can decide to go with his case to court.
What are the advantages of SMAC?
- It is easy to request. Just hand in a paper. The worker is usually favoured so an employee will not have to explain much.
- It saves the time and expenses of a lawsuit.
- In most cases companies will reach an agreement at the arbitrary act. They cannot reach one now before it, and will not do so now.
- You do not have to hire a lawyer. A lawyer will help, and be very useful, but you can go through all the process on your own. Unfortunately it is all in Spanish.
So, teachers, you now know you have somewhere to go to fight for your rights if you have been sacked inappropriately.