As already happened with the riders, Justice has once again set its eyes on another niche of self-employed workers, who, however, carried out structural tasks within a company, but were not recognized as salaried employees: lawyers. The Superior Court of Justice of Madrid ruled on July 16 in favor of 141 lawyers who worked in an external regime for the multinational Transcom, and where they provided legal advice to Santander, Sabadell, Inversis, Caixabank and Deutsche Bank through a service of call center (telephone attention). According to this ruling, the TSJM recognizes the employment of these lawyers ―that is, that their work was produced under the same conditions as that of the rest of their fellow salaried workers―, and maintains the more than six and a half million euros of fine that the Labor Inspection determined for the Nordic company.
The court ruling, to which EL PAÍS has had access, establishes that there was an “employment relationship” between these 141 workers and Transcom, and that therefore, their status as external is meaningless. According to one of the lawyers who has brought the case, all of them carried out tasks equal to those of the rest of the colleagues with a fixed contract. For example, they had a perfectly established working day by the company, they occupied the same place in their facilities, they used the computers provided to them and they used a company-specific application to carry out their work. Through it they received calls that required legal advice, such as, for example, the supervision of the opening of a checking account in one of these entities by companies.
Despite the fact that initially the large banks had their own legal office that dealt with solving these situations, with the passage of time the service was outsourced and it was referred to subcontractors such as Transcom. The Swedish multinational offers a telephone service for legal inquiries (among many others), and in recent years it had managed to sign contracts with the main financial institutions in the country.
However, taking into account one of the particularities contained in the bargaining agreement, which does not oblige lawyers to necessarily contribute to Social Security, but can do so through mutual societies, the service had led to the formation of groups of external lawyers, who, in reality, carried out the same task and for the same client.
On the basis of this circumstance, one of the lawyers notified the Labor Inspectorate, and after months of proceedings, it raised a sanction certificate for more than six million euros when they found these irregularities between 2013 and 2017. Before The appeal filed by the company against this fine, the General Treasury of the Social Security presented an ex officio demand that was also appealed, until finally reaching the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid. Despite all this legal journey, sources familiar with the case point out that Transcom’s will is to transfer the case to the Supreme Court, and thus delay the execution of the sanction.
Glovo and Deliveroo precedents
It should be remembered that the doctrine of the Supreme Court has remained in tune with the recognition of the employment of external workers such as the riders (dealers). In a 2019 sentence, he already considered a Glovo delivery man to be a false self-employed person, and a year later he dismissed the appeal filed by the Deliveroo company on the situation of 532 delivery men in Madrid.
“The judgment of this Fourth Chamber deals with a matter of the utmost relevance and topicality, when addressing the question of whether work linked to digital platforms should be considered as an employment relationship, and it pronounces in favor of the employment nature of the relationship between the dealer and the digital platform ”, indicates the ruling, in a clear warning for the other companies.
Currently the group of lawyers in charge of carrying out this legal advice for the banks within Transcom has been dissolved. In fact, some of its members have been absorbed by these financial entities to carry out this activity internally.