Working in Spain

1. Legal requirements

If you are an EU national you can enter Spain as a tourist and once you register as a resident, you may register with the unemployment office to look for a job.

If you are from a non-EU country willing to work in Spain, you will need to apply for your work and residence permit, and therefore you will be required to submit a job contract or an offer of employment in the form of a pre-contract stamped and signed by both parties (or a letter written on the headed paper of the Spanish employer).

Once you are legally working in Spain you will be subject to the same labor legislation as any Spanish worker, and you will be entitled to all benefits.

2. Employment contract

The employment contract must contain the following provisions:

  • Details of the employer and the employee.
  • Time period of the contract.
  • Type of contract.
  • Professional category.
  • Description of work conditions: the working centre, the working hours, work schedule.
  • Specification of the trial period.
  • Duration of the holidays.
  • Compensation.
  • Collective bargaining agreement applicable.

Both parties must sign the work contract. The employee should be provided with one copy of the contract previously stamped in the corresponding official employment office.

2.1. Types of employment contracts

There are different types of work contracts, its duration may be indefinite or temporary. Temporary work contracts must establish the duration.

The most common types of employment contract are as follows:

  • Contracts for indefinite duration:
    • Full time contract.
    • Part time contract
  • Temporary contracts.
    • Training contract.
    • Learning contract.
    • Contracts for production needs.
    • Contracts for the provision of a specific service or the completion of a specific work.
    • Contracts for the replacement of employees.

3. Working conditions

Jobs in Spain must be performed under, at least, minimum working conditions, which are described in the Statute of workers (Estatuto de Trabajadores) and the applicable collective bargaining agreement.

The standard work week is 40 hours, though this varies depending on the occupation. The standard weekly uninterrumped rest is one and a half days (two days for minors), although this also varies from one occupation to another.

Spanish labor rules prescribe that daily working hours are limited to 9 hours work per day. It is also prescribed a minimum of 12 hours’ rest between working days.

Overtime (horas extraordinarias), i.e. working hours in excess of the ordinary hours, are also restricted by law to 80 hours per year, unless the collective bargaining prescribes something different. The worker must be compensated, either in cash or by paid time off in lieu. It is legally banned for minors to work overtime.

National holidays are 14 (two of them are locally established) and the vacation period legally paid is 30 calendar days, unless otherwise is established in the collective bargaining agreement.

Working hours are closely connected with other aspects of employment such as the salary, which amount and structure is normally established by the collective bargaining agreement. Usually, two extra payments are made, in June and December.

These are only general guidelines and not definitive statements of the law. Any questions about the law’s applications to individual cases should be directed to a Spanish Lawyer.

4. Salary’s deductions

The employer must deduct monthly contributions to the Social Security from the employee’s salary, as far as this one exceeds the minimum annual salary, which is around EUR 600 per month. These contributions are calculated as a percentage of your taxable income. Your employer will deposit your contributions with the Social Security General Treasury (Tesorerí­a General de la Seguridad Social).

Your salary is also subject to personal income tax in Spain. The employer will deduct monthly amounts from your salary and must deposit them with the National Tax Administration. The amount to be deducted will depend on your income level.

5. Dismissal

Dismissal is one of the causes for which the employment contract can be terminated. In this case it is the unilateral decision of the employer to terminate the contract. Dismissal may be collective or individual.

5.1. Collective dismissal

Collective dismissal must be based on economic, technical, organizational or production reasons. It is understood that there exist these reasons where the future running of the company is in danger and it is advisable to terminate a number employment contracts to overcome the company’s crisis.

A collective dismissal may take place in the following cases:

  • When it affects at least 10 employees in companies with less than 100 workers.
  • When it affects at least 10% of the employees in companies having between 100 and 300 employees.
  • When it affects at least 30% of the employees in companies having 300 or more workers, and when it affects the whole staff, provided that the number of employees affected is above 5.

In such cases the company must start an administrative enquiry before the Labor Authorities which will analyze whether there exist the economic, technical, organizational or production circumstances that the employer alleged or not; they will also analyze if there exist other method to solve the “crisis” situation of the company.

If the administrative decision is in favour of terminating the employment contracts, the company will have to pay the minimum indemnity fixed by law for these cases, 20 days of pay per year of service, with a maximum of 12 monthly pays.

When labor authorities disagree the employers’ decision of terminating the employment contracts, employees with indefinite contracts will be paid the indemnity corresponding to disciplinary dismissal, 33 days of pay per year of service, with a maximum of 24 monthly pays.

The employee can file an appeal against the employer’s decision. The labor judge may agree with the employer’s measure, in which case he declares the confirmation of termination of the contract; or may refuse the termination, and declare that the dismissal has been unfair.

5.1. Disciplinary Dismissal (individual dismissal)

In this case, the employer unilaterally decides to terminate the contract of a worker on account of his serious contractual breach.

The main grounds for which an employer can terminate the contract of an employee, can be the following:

  • Recurrent or unjustified non-attendance to work or late arrival.
  • Lack of discipline or disobedience at work.
  • Verbal or physical offence to the employer, to other colleagues at work or to their relatives.
  • Transgression of contractual good faith and betrayal of trust in the performance of the work.
  • Voluntary and continuous decrease of the normal or agreed performance at work.
  • Frequent drunkenness or drugs addiction when they have negative influence on the labor activity.

The dismissal must be notified in writing to the employee.

The employee may contest the employer’s decision, he may file a petition for conciliation before the arbitration & mediation office (Servicio de Mediación, Arbitraje y Conciliación) within 20 days upon receipt of the dismissal letter. The parties may reach an out of court agreement on the date scheduled for the labour mediation service, if no agreement is reached then the employee is entitled to file a lawsuit before the Labour Courts.

If the judge considers that the employer’s decision is justified and proved, the employment contract is terminated without any compensation.

If the judge considers that the dismissal is unfair, the employer is sentenced to pay the corresponding wages since the day of dismissal until the day of the judgement. Furthermore, he must either re-employ the worker or compensate him with 33 days of salary per year of service, with a maximum of 24 monthly wages.

5.3. Dismissal based on objective causes according to law

The main causes are as follows:

  • The employee’s ineptitude to perform his former position duties.
  • Worker’s non-adaptation to the work technical modifications.
  • Recurrent non-attendance to work.
  • To terminate some employment contracts based on economic, technical, organizational or production reasons within a period of 90 days:
    • Affecting at least 10 employees in companies with less than 100 workers.
    • When it affects at least 10% of the employees in companies having between 100 and 300 employees.
    • When it affects at least 30% of the employees in companies having 300 or more workers.

The employer must notify the dismissal in writing to the employee at least 30 days before the date in which the dismissal is to take effect. The employee must receive an indemnity equal to 20 days of salary.

6. Getting legal help

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