How is a labour trial conducted?

¿Cómo se desarrolla un juicio laboral?
Published on: 19 December 2022

Labour lawsuits are usually oral in nature, so it is clear that the judge requires the lawyer's conduct to be concrete. When an employee decides to file a lawsuit against a company in a labour court, such as in the case of dismissals, sanctions, accidents at work, pecuniary claims, etc., it must be taken into account that in most cases he or she must first file a lawsuit with the Mediation, Arbitration and Conciliation Service (SMAC), the Mediation, Arbitration and Mediation Centre (CMAC) or the Mediation, Arbitration and Mediation Unit (UMAC).

They conduct a mediation vote and then initiate proceedings in the relevant social security court. However, it is best to contact a lawyer who specialises in the field of employment law. In short, it is very important to have the assistance of suitable professionals throughout the entire labour court process. Having an expert in labour law by your side will help you face labour litigation situations with more confidence and provide greater protection for your labour claims.

What are the next steps?

The first thing to do is to file an application for mediation. The most common cases in which the mediation law is compulsory are dismissal, penalties, claims for payment, recognition of general rights and voluntary termination of the contract by the employee. Exceptions are those related to Article 64 of the Social Jurisdiction Act, e.g. in relation to leave, social security, geographical mobility, changes of contracts and working conditions, etc.

The mediation may be accepted, which in this case means that the worker has reached an agreement with the company and the claim process has been terminated. Another option may be that it has been tried in vain, i.e. the company has not participated in the mediation. And finally the one where no agreement was reached; the company and the employee participated but no agreement was reached. In the case of invalid attempts or failure to reach an agreement, the worker must file a claim with the labour court.

We must always consider the statute of limitations and expiry periods, and if we are summoned late for mediation, we may have to file a claim before the Social Court before the SMAC or CMAC is held.

The second thing to do is to start the judicial labour phase. If mediation has been attempted at the SMAC or CMAC but no agreement has been reached, the worker files a lawsuit in the labour court. The relevant court, in turn, will issue instructions on labour proceedings, which can take between a few months and two years, depending on the type of proceedings in the court or the burden of the judicial process.

Before the trial begins, the court administration lawyer will require the company to reach an agreement with the employee. If such an agreement is not reached, a trial hearing will be initiated.

This is followed by a labour trial, in which three important stages can be distinguished: the arguments of both parties, the taking of evidence and the conclusions of the parties. Both the plaintiff and the defendant, which is usually the employer, present a defence. As far as the employee is concerned, his or her presentation time is usually shorter because the labour claim before the court has already been completed, on the other hand the company has to make an allegation of the facts presented in the employee's claim.

Finally, there is the judgement. After the trial, represented by the workers and the company, the judge will terminate the labour trial and then, within an unspecified period of time, the judgement, i.e. the decision, will be notified to the parties.

What evidence is valid in a labour trial?

In any kind of trial, the object of evidence is to prove the facts disputed by the parties involved in the proceedings. The taking of evidence is one of the most important parts of a trial because it determines the outcome of the trial.

The evidence to be presented relates to the matter disputed by the other party. Therefore, evidence unrelated to the claim may be rejected by the judge. The evidence is presented at the same time as the trial, but in some cases it may be requested during the trial. When a lawsuit is filed, the judge may be asked to request certain documents from the company and to call certain witnesses. Almost all evidence is valid as long as it can establish a specific fact. This evidence can be for example emails, whatsapp, suppliers or customers, employees, or any written evidence you have.

The admissibility of the evidence depends on compliance with article 90 of the Social Jurisdiction Act. But at trial, evidence may also be inadmissible if it is found to be related to a violation of public freedom or fundamental rights.

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