Spain takes steps to tackle unemployment

The Spanish government has announced a series of measures designed to preserve jobs, promote future employment and help the unemployed.

Legislation came into force recently that aims to address Spain’s worsening economic situation. It has the highest unemployment figures in the European Union: unemployment rose to 17.36% of the workforce in the first quarter of 2009. Youth unemployment is a particular problem, with almost one in three of all 15 to 24-year-olds out of work; by far the highest rate of any member state. According to the IMF, the Spanish economy will not begin to recover until 2010; it predicts a 3% decline in 2009.

Under the new rules the government will allow employers to reduce their social security contributions if they make temporary lay-offs rather than full-scale redundancies.

There will also be greater protection for older employees who face losing their jobs and incentives for employers that hire part-time workers.

To encourage employers to recruit the long-term unemployed, the government will pay up to 100% of their social security contributions for up to three years if they take on individuals who have been out of work for a certain period.

The government has also abolished the one-month waiting period for claiming benefits.

The new measures will stay in place until the end of the year at least, but could be extended.

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