Letterbox companies and seemingly self-employed drivers on the radar of the Spanish authorities
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The letterbox companies are one of the most serious problems of the Spanish transport industry. Various institutions join forces to combat this dishonest behavior.
Spanish offices will establish cooperation to fight more effectively with unfair practices in the transport industry. The National Anti-Fraud Office, the Spanish Social Insurance Government, the local tax office and the Transport Inspectorate will carry out coordinated actions and inspections in transport companies that have moved their headquarters outside Spain.
Offices will also focus on controls of the so-called „Falsos autónomos”, in other words, seemingly self-employed drivers. Spain’s largest „flood” of false self-employed took place after 2008. Fictitious self-employment is the second biggest issue of the Spanish transport industry, after the letterbox companies. This practice allows carriers to reduce employment costs (self-employed pay lower social security contributions).
This is part of the Strategic Plan of the Spanish Labor Inspection 2018-2020, which „provides for a range of measures to combat fraud, job insecurity and exploitation of workers, to improve the quality of employment and working conditions in Spain”.
According to the definition of the Spanish Labor Inspectorate, a „letterbox company” is one that has established a headquarters in a member state with lower employment costs in relation to the country in which it actually operates, thereby obtaining unlawfully the opportunity to reduce labor costs. The inspection also adds that such a company does not operate in the country of residence and uses the principle of fraud to post workers abroad so that it can pay lower wages and pay lower contributions for it.
The Ministry of Transport inspection last year carried out intensified inspections in Spanish companies. It turned out then that „letterboxes” set up by Spanish companies abroad, mainly in Eastern Europe, generated from 75 to 90 percent of turnover in Spain, carrying out domestic transport there. This means that carriers with a fleet on Spanish territory, employing drivers on „eastern” conditions, operate and earn almost exclusively in Spain. The activities of such companies in this country are flourishing because the Spanish posting regulations cover workers who spend more than 8 days on Spanish territory. In practice, therefore, they do not apply to transport, and if so, to a negligible extent. The Spanish industry associations have been demanding for years to change the interpretation of regulations and to settle the deadline of 8 days during the whole month.