Spain’s top court rules workers have contractual right to Christmas hamper

Stuffed with cured meats and wine, the Christmas hamper has long been a classic festive perk for employees across Spain, but now the country’s Supreme Court has ruled that it is a right that companies must honour.

In a ruling made public on Monday, the court declared Fujitsu Technology Spain had been wrong to suspend the delivery of hampers from the year 2013, when the Christmas goody bag was cancelled – a casualty of austerity in the midst of Spain’s deep economic crisis.

While the decision in 2013 could be understood as an emergency measure, which, the court noted, was not protested by workers’ union representatives, the company did not have the right to strike off the provision of a hamper indefinitely.

Employees, the judges argued, came to expect to receive the hamper at Christmas, meaning it becomes an acquired right.

The court said that “given the repetition over time of its delivery to the entire staff”, the annual gift becomes “a beneficial condition of the labour contract that cannot be considered merely an act of generosity on the part of the company”.

Fujitsu Spain had been delivering hampers since the unit was founded in 1973, with the exception of 1997, when vouchers were handed out instead.

After skipping the 2013 company hamper, unions registered complaints when the Yuletide parcel failed to reappear during the following three years up to 2016.  

The fact that workers representatives did not complain in 2013 “demonstrates an acceptance of a one-off sacrifice in view of the circumstances”, the court held.

Company hampers in Spain typically include cured meats including ham and chorizo, as well as cheese, paté, olive oil, nougat, wines and liquors.

The court ordered Fujitsu to distribute the hamper corresponding to 2016 as a compensation for the breach of trust, meaning that the company’s 1,600 employees in Spain may be receiving a double delivery this Christmas.

While the judges said the ruling did not automatically mean all companies must provide hampers at Christmas, it is the fourth time that the Supreme Court has ruled that the delivery is a contractual condition

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