Announcement by Crue (Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities) on predoctoral researchers

Crue Spanish Universities wish to, above all, make clear their interest in defending the rights of members of the university community, including predoctoral researchers, foundation of the future system of Spanish I+D+I and an indisputable piece of the development of research activity and knowledge transfer of our country.

The changing situation of the legislation with regards to hiring or maintaining researchers has motivated intense communication between Crue Spanish Universities and the Ministries convening these types of contracts, as well as the Federation of Associations of Temporary Workers, communicating at all times our concern for the possible loss of financial support for this group and our willingness to find a solution, if necessary.

As a result of these conversations, and after consultations with legal services, with staff and with researchers of different universities, Crue Spanish Universities has been able to confirm that the change of legislation, accompanied by a sub-code which gives it a special character, has been applied to current employees and new hires, according to Social Security guidelines. The modification of contribution codes with retroactive effects has been put in place by Social Security.

This, however, does not entail a loss of workers’ rights or  benefits regarding unemployment allowance, maximum contract length and the possibility of benefiting from an internship contract later, given the special character of these predoctoral contracts following on from Act 14/2011, 1st of June, of Science, Technology and Innovation.

The only issue which remains to be resolved, at the present time, is that of the European Health Insurance Card, essential for the international mobility of our research staff in training. According to what we have been told by different Spanish governmental sources, there could be changes to the application procedure, but not to the bestowal of the card itself.

In relation to information gathered in the press claiming that the change to the type of contract could have been requested by Crue Spanish Universities, we wish to state that in May 2014 we made an enquiry with the Ministry of Employment and Social Security in order to find a solution to the difficulties in adapting predoctoral contracts as they then stood to the Law of Science, Technology and Innovation. Previously, various universities had made similar enquiries, obtaining contradictory responses.

The situation which has been brought about makes clear, as universities have expressed many times, the need to establish a specific labour law and normative criteria for the different figures of temporary research staff, since any fit with the current labour law and classification is giving rise to grave problems. The solution would perhaps be the creation of a new figure to fulfil the Law of Science, Technology and Innovation and reflect the specificity of this type of contract.

In this way, Crue Spanish Universities are committed to working uninterruptedly with the different administrations involved in order to create better working conditions for our predoctoral researchers and improve the career of researchers in universities.

Juan Manuel Corchado

Full Professor in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, Department of Computer Science and Automation, University of Salamanca, Spain.


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