NATIONWIDE department store El Corte Inglés has agreed a voluntary redundancy-cum-early retirement package for up to 1,400 members of staff.
The aim is to allow those who have had enough of working but are still some years short of their State pension to be able to afford to give up their jobs, whilst opening positions for younger, unemployed persons who are despairing of finding work.
The plan is only open to staff aged 58 or over who have paid into the social security system – either as an employee or through self-employment – for a minimum of 35 years and who have been working for the Corte Inglés group, which includes OpenCor, HíperCor and SuperCor, for at least 15 years.
This covers their State pension entitlements, since workers in Spain must have been paying social security, or national insurance for a minimum of 15 years to be entitled to their retirement pot, and need 35 years in the system to get a full pension.
The deal, which is expected to attract between 1,300 and 1,400 employees of the eligible 4,000, has been signed off by four major unions.
As at the end of 2014, El Corte Inglés and its wider group had 91,437 staff members on the payroll, of whom over 63,300 – 69.3% - worked in the network of department stores and 10.3%, or just over 9,100, in the hypermarkets and supermarkets.
But those who feel ready to retire and cannot because they have not reached State pension age – namely those born between 1956 and 1958 inclusive, and part-timers born in 1954 and 1955 – can now opt to do so if they feel the voluntary redundancy scheme would meet their financial needs until they can claim their pension.
Those who do so will earn 70% of their 2015 salary in 12 monthly payments, including any 'extras' featuring in their wage packet, until their 63rd birthdays.
A company insurance policy means they will also be given a one-off immediate payment of six months of their net salary.
They will no longer need to pay into the social security system from the day they take voluntary early retirement through to their 63rd birthday, and the company will pay their income tax.
It is not clear what their choices will be between age 63 and 65, when those born in the early 1950s will be able to collect their pension – as opposed to younger workers, who will have to wait until they are 67.
Staff who want to consider the offer have three weeks to put their names down – although doing so is not binding until the employee signs a contract to that effect – from Tuesday, March 15.