Although almost half of those affected by an ERTE have not yet had their payments, SEPE’s 6,200 workers have processed 1.9 million ERTE files during the state of alarm, 80% of the total it has received.
According to the Minister of Labour, Yolanda Díaz, workers of the Public State Employment Service (SEPE) are “working their socks off” to get ERTE files processed for state benefits, she even went so far as to ask for applause for them in the same way as the one carried out every evening for health professionals.
Although they don’t have white coats, they are the other heroes of this crisis, who work piece by piece, seven days a week, and double shifts, to try to ensure that none of those affected by this pandemic remains without receiving their unemployment benefits; in fact, in just over a month, almost 1.9 million people affected by a Temporary Employment Regulation File (ERTE) have been recognized as unemployed, which although it is 80% of what they have recieved, it is less than half of those that have been presented.
“There is a great deal of commitment, there is a kind of awareness that we are essential for citizen well-being, as without us people cannot eat,” explains Pilar Seoane, director of an employment office in La Coruña.
But despite the important work they have in their hands, such as managing which unemployed people are entitled to a benefit and granting them the best possible, according to Seoane, resources are minimal. There’s just over 6,200 officials who are currently working to manage a volume that exceeds 6.2 million payouts.
SEPE’s work rate is usually frenetic, as they have to pay more than 2.1 million unemployment benefits each month, but their workload has multiplied by six or seven times, since they now have an extra 4.1 million workers who are affected by an ERTE due to the coronavirus, and the vast majority are waiting to receive this financial aid from the State.
Specifically, from March 16th to April 20th, 1,884,816 benefits have been recognized, which means that if more than 520,000 ERTEs have been presented, affecting 4.1 million workers, so only 45% have been processed.
But this is not the fault of SEPE, which recognizes more than 80% of the benefits that come to it daily, according to its data.
In fact, their work rate has intensified to such an extent that if 162,852 benefits were processed in the first week of confinement, they exceeded 800,000 in the last week. Only on Tuesday they processed 140,000 in one day, an average that they hope to maintain daily until this situation stabilizes.
In addition to those 1.9 million files processed, the SEPE has attended 455,953 consultation calls in the last month and has given more than 1.1 million previous online appointments for benefits.
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