Voluntary Return Programme for non-EU migrant workers in Spain
- Responsible Organizations: National Public Employment Office (Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal), The Ministry of Labour and Immigration (Government)
- ILO Regions: Americas; Arab States; Europe
- Country(ies): Andorra; Argentina; Brazil; Chile; Colombia; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Paraguay; Paraguay; Peru; Philippines; Russian Federation; Spain; Tunisia; Ukraine; Ukraine; Uruguay; Venezuela
- Theme(s): Management of labour migration
- Start date: 2008
Address the high unemployment rates of migrant workers in Spain and re-adjust labour migration policies in response to the current economic crisis.
Activities, processes and steps involved:
In September 2008, Spain enacted a law by royal decree (Real Decreto-Ley 4/2008) on the voluntary return of unemployed migrant workers, which was elaborated by Real Decreto 1800/2008 on 3 November 2008. The law applies only to migrants from non-European Union origin countries and with which Spain has signed bilateral social security agreements (these are 20 countries).
The law provides that unemployed workers who agree to return to their home countries will be paid in advance the totality of unemployment benefits to which they are entitled. Forty per cent of the amount would be paid in Spain and 60 per cent in the country of origin, 30 to 90 days after the first payment is made. Further, their contributions to the social security system in Spain would be accumulated with those made in the country of origin, for purposes of calculating their future pensions. It is expected that each beneficiary will receive around 9,000 euros. Finally, if they wish to do so, beneficiaries can return to Spain to reside or work, only after a three-year period. Additional assistance is also possible to facilitate return trips. If migrant workers participating in the programme are temporary residents, they must surrender their residence permits. After the three-year, they can reapply for residence and they will receive special consideration when applying for employment opportunities in Spain. Those wishing to apply for permanent residence in the future will have their previous time spent in Spain prior to participating in the return programme count towards the required residence period. Individuals in the target group who are permanent residents of Spain can regain their status after the three-year period.
The National Public Employment Office of the Ministry of Labour and Immigration oversees the application process, issues the final decision, and administers the payment of benefits.
The target of the voluntary return programme is 87,000 foreign workers; currently, the number of individuals submitting applications remains small.
Unemployed migrant workers in Spain
The Forum for the Social Integration of Immigrants, the major trade unions, employers¿ organizations, and other relevant Ministries were consulted. In addition, the law (1800/2008) calls for the coordination of the programme with the activities of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation in each origin country.
As of June 2009, 5,088 applications have been submitted with 3,977 approved.
Including the dependents of migrants, 6,077 persons will participate in the programme.
Most applicants are from Latin America, in particular from Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, Peru and Brazil.
Relevant criteria for assessment
1. Respect for migrant worker rights:
The practice ensures the right of return and that return is voluntary and that migrants will not lose the benefits they paid to the social security system. Real Decreto 1800/2008 requires that potential returnees are informed about their rights and the consequences of participating in the programme. It also offers some assistance to migrants participating in the programme to organize their return.
The practice extends the possibility to voluntarily return to the origin country without losing unemployment benefits and social security benefits. Additionally, it calls for the cooperation of the Spanish Agency for International Development to assist in the reintegration process of returnees.
3. (Positive) Impact:
While it is too early to determine the impact, the law may minimize the negative consequences of return by offering returned migrant workers payment of contributions, some return assistance, and the possibility of returning to Spain.
4. Potential for replication and extension (adaptability):
The practice could serve as an example for other destination countries considering how to implement a voluntary return programme.
To date, the practice seems to have reached few unemployed migrant workers. It may be too soon to judge the effectiveness of the law as the full consequences of the economic crisis are not yet completely apparent. The law includes a provision for the annual evaluation of the measures introduced to determine their effectiveness and whether there is a need for adjustment.
- Ministry of Labour and Immigration
National Public Employment Office
Tel: (34) 901 11 99 99<
Real Decreto-Ley 4/2008, sobre abono acumulado y de forma anticipada de la prestación contributiva por desempleo a trabajadores extranjeros no comunitarios que retornen voluntariamente a sus país de origen (19 September 2008)/ Voluntary return of non-European Union migrant workers to their countries of origin, http://www.inem.es/inem/ciudadano/prestaciones/pdf/RDLey_4_2008.pdf
Real Decreto 1800/2008,por el que se desarrolla el Real Decreto-ley 4/2008, de 19 de septiembre, sobre abono acumulado y de forma anticipada de la prestación contributiva por desempleo a trabajadores extranjeros no comunitarios que retornen voluntariamente a sus países de origen (3 November 2008),
Ministry of Labour and Immigration, ¿Más de 5.000 solicitudes para acogerse al Plan de retorno voluntario de trabajadores extranjeros¿ (3 June 2009),
- Plan de Retorno Voluntario
- Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal