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Who is an essential worker?

Who is an essential worker?
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New Covid-19 restrictions in Spain from 30 March 2020

From Monday 30 March only workers whose jobs are deemed essential by the Spanish government are permitted to go to work. The restrictions are part of the effort to halt the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Non-essential workers must not attend their workplaces between 30 March and 9 April, but should be paid as normal by their employers (with a requirement to make up the lost hours later). For more information on how this works, see the FAQs prepared by the Catalan Department d’Interior.

Everyone confined to their homes – that’s almost all of us – can only leave in order to carry out one of the permitted activities, and in most cases should carry a self-declaration document, which you can find here.  

But who counts as an essential worker?

The official list of essential work runs to 25 points and is written in very cumbersome legal language. It’s not easy understand even if you speak good Spanish. I’ve had a go at creating a summary list of essential workers, and pasted a longer direct translation of the official list below where you can check out the details.  

Summary list of essential work

Here’s my summary of the 25 types of essential work on the official list:

  1. Those activities required by the Royal Decree (Shops selling food or drink, doctors, pharmacies, petrol stations, etc.)
  2. Supply chain, production and distribution of basic goods and services including food and medicine.
  3. Restaurant home delivery
  4. Supply chain, production and distribution of medical equipment
  5. Maintenance services for essential manufacturing
  6. Essential transport and related maintenance
  7. Prisons and security (including private), sea rescue, fire service
  8. Armed forces maintenance services
  9. Centres which serve the elderly, minors and disabled. R&D centres related to Covid19 research. Funeral services
  10. Veterinarians
  11. The press, including printing and distribution
  12.  Financial services (banks, insurance companies and investment companies) for essential services
  13. Telecommunications and internet
  14. Domestic violence victim protection services
  15. Legal services and any service firms supporting essential services and non-suspended court cases
  16. Advisory firms like legal, administrative, health & safety and risk management, for urgent matters
  17. Notaries, to support essential services
  18. Cleaning, maintenance and waste management
  19. Refugee centres
  20. Water sanitation and supply
  21. Meteorological services (weather)
  22. Postal services
  23. Import and supply chain of medical equipment (logistics, customs)
  24. Distribution and delivery of online or telephone purchases
  25. Anything else deemed essential

Full translation of the official list

And here’s a translated version of the official Spanish list:

1. Those who carry out the activities that must continue to be carried out under cover of articles 10.1, 10.4, 14.4, 16, 17 and 18 of Royal Decree 463/2020, of 14 March, declaring the state of alarm for the management of the crisis situation health caused by COVID-19 and the regulations approved by the Authority Competent and the Delegated Competent Authorities.

2. Those who work in the activities that participate in the chain of supplying the market and in the operation of the services of the production of basic goods and services, including food, beverages, animal feed, hygiene products, medicines, sanitary products or any product necessary for the protection of health, allowing distribution of them from the origin to the final destination.

3. Those that provide services in the hotel and restaurant activities that provide home delivery services.

4. Those that provide services in the chain of production and distribution of goods, services, health technology, medical supplies, protective equipment, equipment health and hospital and any other materials necessary for the provision of health services.

5. Those essential for the maintenance of productive activities of the manufacturing industry that offer supplies, equipment and materials necessary for the correct development of the essential activities included in this annexed.

6. Those who carry out transport services, both for people and goods, which continue to be developed since the declaration of the state of alarm, as well as those that must ensure the maintenance of the means used for this, under the regulations approved by the competent authority and the competent authorities delegated since the declaration of the state of alarm.

7. Those that provide services in Penitentiary Institutions, of civil protection, sea ​​rescue, rescue and fire prevention and extinction, safety of mines, and traffic and road safety. Likewise, those who work in the companies of private security that provide security transport services, response to alarms, round or discontinuous surveillance, and those that are necessary to use for performance of security services in guarantee of essential services and supplying the population.

8. The indispensable ones that support the maintenance of the material and equipment of the armed forces.

9. Those of health centers, services and establishments, as well as people who (i) serve the elderly, minors, dependents or people with disability, and people who work in companies, R & D & I centers and biotech companies linked to COVID-19, (ii) the animal facilities associated with them, (iii) the maintenance of the minimum services of the facilities associated with them and companies supplying products necessary for said investigation, and (iv) the people who work in funeral services and other related activities.

10. Those of health care centers, services and establishments a animals.

11. Those that provide services at press outlets and in the media communication or news agencies of public and private ownership, as well as in their printing or distribution.

12. Those of financial services companies, including banking, insurance and investment, for the provision of the services that are essential, and the activities typical of payment infrastructures and financial markets.

13. Those of telecommunications and audiovisual and service companies essential computing, as well as those networks and facilities that support them and sectors or subsectors necessary for its proper functioning, especially those that are essential for the adequate provision of services public, as well as the operation of the non-presential work of the employees public.

14. Those that provide services related to the protection and care of victims of gender violence.

15. Those who work as lawyers, attorneys, social graduates, translators, interpreters and psychologists and those who attend procedural proceedings do not suspended by Royal Decree 463/2020, of March 14, declaring the alarm status for the management of the health crisis situation caused by the COVID-19 and, in this way, comply with the essential services set consensually by the Ministry of Justice, General Council of the Judiciary, the Attorney General of the State and Autonomous Communities with powers in the matter and reflected in the Resolution of the Secretary of State for Justice dated 14 March 2020, and the adaptations that in their chaos may be agreed.

16. Those who provide services in law firms and legal consultancies, agencies administrative and social graduates, and other people’s own prevention services occupational risks, in urgent matters.

17. Those that provide services in the notaries and registries for the fulfilment of the essential services set by the General Directorate of Legal Security and Public Faith.

18. Those that provide cleaning, maintenance, and fault repair services and surveillance services, as well as providing services in the collection, management and treatment of hazardous waste, as well as urban solid waste, hazardous and non-hazardous, wastewater collection and treatment, activities of decontamination and other waste management services and transportation and removal of by-products or in any of the entities belonging to the Public Sector, in accordance with the provisions of article 3 of Law 9/2017, of November 8, Public Sector Contracts.

19. Those who work in the Refugee Reception Centers and in the Temporary Stay for Immigrants and public entities of private management subsidized by the Secretary of State for Migration and operating within the of International Protection and Humanitarian Attention.

20. Those who work in supply, purification, conduction activities, purification and sanitation of water.

21. Those that are essential for the provision of meteorological services of prediction and observation and the associated processes of maintenance, surveillance and control of operational processes.

22. Those of the operator designated by the State to provide the postal service universal, in order to provide the services of collection, admission, transport, classification, distribution and delivery for the exclusive purposes of guaranteeing said service universal postcard.

23. Those that provide services in those sectors or subsectors that participate in the import and supply of medical equipment, such as logistics companies, transport, storage, customs transit (freight forwarders) and, in general, all those that participate in the sanitary corridors.

24. Those who work in the distribution and delivery of products purchased in the commerce by internet, telephone or correspondence.

25. Any others that provide services that have been considered essential.


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