ERTE: My unemployment benefit was not approved

pending ERTE Unemployment Benefit
Below, we explain some of the reasons why there are still ERTE unemployment benefits pending a resolution.

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Two Public Administrations are involved in the approval of an ERTE unemployment benefit. So, here we explain some of the reasons why there are still unemployment benefits as a result of an ERTE that are pending a final resolution.

The ERTE process until the worker receives his benefit

The Temporary Employment Regulation Files (ERTE) due to the COVID-19 health crisis, are a measure that tries to protect jobs, in addition, to the company’s own survival during the health emergency situation.

When a company has been forced to close or has had a significant reduction in its activity due to the COVID-19 crisis, it can request to be subjected to the ERTE mechanism so that for a while their employment contracts are suspended and the State is in charge of paying the workers’ payroll. 

All this is made through the Public State Employment Service (SEPE). And for this to happen, you have to carry out some procedures that are divided into two phases:

Phase 1: The company asks the labor authority the authorization for an ERTE

When reffering to “labor authorities” we are talking about the Employment Councils of the Autonomous Communities, which study the ERTE application made by the company and see whether or not it meets the requirements required by the law. They can approve the ERTE or reject it. When the maximum period provided elapses and the labor authority has not given a resolution to the case, it is understood that the ERTE has been approved (positive administrative silence).

If the ERTE is rejected, sadly, the trip ends here. It is returned to the company and does not reach the Public State Employment Service (SEPE). Therefore, the worker does not receive the benefit and it is the company that has to take charge of their employees’ salary.

If the ERTE is approved, the managers of the companies prepare the documentation and send a collective request to the SEPE. Subsequently, for the ERTE unemployment benefit to be approved to all the employees we go to the second phase.

When a worker is waiting to collect the ERTE unemployment benefit and the payment does not arrive, they usually call the company concerned and the company assures them that “the ERTE is approved“. 

And it is true, it is approved by the labor authority, but it has not yet passed the second phase, which is the approval of the benefit by the SEPE.

Phase 2: The SEPE approves the unemployment benefit during an ERTE

We have already noticed that once it has the approval of the labor authority, the company sends a collective request to the SEPE to approve the unemployment benefit for all their employees

For this reason, the worker does not have to take steps to request their unemployment benefit: it is the company that requests it for him before the SEPE, and for all his colleagues in the company who are also in an ERTE.

The SEPE, since the State of Alarm was declared, has received more than three million requests for this benefit and has approved more than 90% of the requests before the end of April. During the month of May they will have to resolve the 300,000 that are still pending.

This important group of three hundred thousand workers is very concerned, because in some cases it means spending more than two months without getting paid. When they ask the company what is happening, the company cannot do much more than verify if they sent all the documentation correctly and, if they did, then find out that this approval now depends exclusively on the SEPE.

What are the reasons why some benefits are still pending recognition by the SEPE?

There is not a single single specific reason, but several possible causes in that 10% of benefits pending approval:

1.- In the first place, the overflow that the employment offices have suffered. Due to them being closed to the public and with many of their official agents working from home, despite the effort that all their workers make, evaluating more than 200,000 benefits in a few days is not an easy job to do. In some offices they have not had the time to process all the requests they have received at once. This overflow situation has been publicly recognized by the unions, who have asked for more resources to reinforce the staff.

2.- Secondly, the errors in the data communication process between the advisors of the companies and the SEPE.

Also, there is the possibility that different errors occurred, some caused by technical problems with the applications used, others by human errors in sending the documentation and also problems in the applied procedure.

The gestoría advisors, social graduates and labor managers have also been working around the clock to send all the information, many times without sufficient data or response from the Administration.

Error message when trying to verify the ERTE unemployment benefit status
Error message displayed when trying to verify the unemployment benefit status through the SEPE webpage

Errors in the ERTE bank accounts

One of the situations that has generated the most incidents has to do with the bank accounts that companies have sent to SEPE so that they can pay for the unemployment benefit of each employee. 

Normally, the companies have given the SEPE the bank account with which they themselves pay the wages to the worker. In many cases, these are old accounts of entities that no longer exist and that, after the banking crisis, were merged or absorbed by others.

The companies pay the salaries every month in these no longer working bank accounts and the bank itself, when it receives the transfer, automatically forwards it to the new bank account of the worker. This entire process is invisible and both the employee and the company have think that the old account still works well, because the payments arrive at their destination.


Luis has been working in the same company for 15 years. When he went to work, he gave his Cajamadrid bank account so that they could pay him his salary. A few years ago, Cajamadrid merged with other entities giving rise to Bankia and they changed bank accounts. Although the company continues to send payments to that old Cajamadrid account, when Bankia receives the payment, it redirects it to the correct account of the employee.

As SEPE official agents have said, the problem arose when the Employment Service was going to register the benefit and tried to introduce an obsolete and non-existent bank account into the system, which was not accepted and caused an error when registering the unemployment benefit, even though the company was using it to pay their payroll every month.

These cases, which are counted by thousands, had to be corrected “by hand” in different ways. In some cases, the SEPE has contacted the worker to ask for the correct data. In others, it has been the worker themself who has provided them directly, or the companies, when they have learned that the employee had not collected their unemployment benefits on time. And apparently, the SEPE has also been able to manage this modification with some banks, so that they could provide the correct accounts.

How to contact the SEPE?

If you are still waiting for your unemployment benefits to be approved and you think that you may be in these cases of  incorrect old bank accounts (of Savings Banks and other banks that merged or were absorbed) you can notify the SEPE for them to correct your bank account:

A) If you have a secure identification online method (digital certificate, electronic DNI or [email protected])

The bank account can be changed directly from the SEPE Electronic Headquarters (in the section “Modify bank details”).

B) If you do not have a secure identification online method then you will have to try to contact the SEPE

So that they check whether the bank account is correct or not, and, where appropriate, to update it. There are three forms of contact:

  1. Contact the SEPE managers by telephone, either by dialing 900 81 24 00 or the official information number, such as 060 from 9 to 14, Monday to Friday.
  2. Request an appointment online, so that a manager can contact you, either by email or by phone. You can request your appointment here.
  3. SEPE contact form: on their Electronic Headquarters there is a form to ask questions and contact the SEPE directly. The contact form is available on this link.

The banks will advance the payment of unemployment benefits

At the beginning of May, the Minister of Labor recognized the existence of 300,000 benefits pending resolution and promised that they would be resolved during the first fortnight of May. In addition, an agreement has been reached with the banks, so that the workers collect their unemployment benefit at the same time that it is approved, without having to wait until the beginning of June.

Despite all this, through the general media, it is known about the existence of thousands of workers who have not yet received their benefits and the complex economic situation in which they find themselves, after almost two months without receiving their payment.

Some groups, desperate due to the delay in solving this problem, have started protests to denounce the situation and have presented complaints and claims.

How to check if my unemployment benefit has been approved?

Example of an approved ERTE unemployment benefit
Example of an approved ERTE unemployment benefit, as it is displayed on the SEPE webpage

From the Electronic Headquarters of the SEPE, on the Internet, you can see the status of the processing of your benefit and when it has been approved, the amount to be collected, and the detail of the next payroll (as in the example in the image).

Do you have any questions?

We want to listen to you and know what your questions are about the procedures you have to carry out. Count on the advice of our experts to clarify all your doubts. 

In Entre Trámites we invite you to know about all our services. Fill in our contact form and we will call you to help you as soon as possible, schedule your free online consultation, or simply text our WhatsApp.

You may be also interested in:

How to collect my unemployment benefit in an ERTE?
Economic Measures during the COVID-19 crisis
How to check the status of your unemployment benefit
Rental aid during the COVID-19 crisis

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