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Hire in Spain

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Last updated at November 15, 2022
beautiful scenery in the country of spain

Currency

Euro (EUR)

Capital

Madrid

Time Zone

GMT+1

Key Country Facts

Introduction

The Kingdom of Spain is home to a population of 47.1 million people. The capital and largest city is Madrid. Spain’s second largest city is Barcelona, which serves as the capital city of Catalonia. The economy of Spain is powered by the automotive industry, agricultural production, energy, financial services, telecommunication, pharmaceuticals, textiles and apparel as well as tourism. The contribution of the hotel and tourism industry represents more than 12% of Spain’s GDP.

Area

Spain has a coastline along the Atlantic Ocean to the north and along the Mediterranean Sea to the southeast. Spain has land borders with Andorra, France, Gibraltar (UK), Portugal and Morocco. It also shares maritime borders with Algeria and Italy. The country occupies an area of nearly 506,000 square kilometers, making it the fourth-largest country in Europe.

Climate

There are three different climate zones in Spain, owing to its large geography. Southwestern and southern areas have a warm Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and moderate, wet winters. The north has a maritime climate with both the summer and winter seasons being mild. Central Spain has a continental climate, where summers are extremely hot and winters are cold with little to no precipitation.

Culture

Spain is a Western country and its culture is marked by strong historic ties to Catholicism, which played a pivotal role in the country’s formation and subsequent identity. The country’s art, architecture, cuisine and music have been influenced by successive waves of foreign invaders, as well as by Spain’s Mediterranean climate and geography. Nearly every aspect of Spanish life is permeated by its Roman heritage, with Spain being one of the major Latin countries of Europe.

Religion

The vast majority of the population is Roman Catholic and about 70% of Spaniards self-identify as Catholics, 2% other faith and25% identify with no religion. The Spanish constitution enshrines secularism in governance as well as freedom of religion or belief for all, saying that no religion should have a “state character” while still allowing for the state to “cooperate” with religious groups.

Official Language

The official and national language is Spanish, while the country’s co-official languages are Catalan, Galician, Basque and Occitan.

Spain HR at a Glance

Employment Law

The Spanish labor law framework is comprehensive and provides robust protection for employees. The labor law regulates individual and collective relationships between employees and employers, the scope of which extends to other related areas such as social security, healthcare, work safety, special employment relationships and procedural law.

Key Points

  • Non-EU citizens must obtain a work permit.
  • In principle, employment contracts are presumed to be for an indefinite term. However, provisions provide for a limited number of fixed-term employment contracts.
  • Minimum working conditions are, in principle, established by the Workers Statute and applicable collective agreements.
  • Employment contracts are automatically transferred with the organization to the new employer. Employees’ rights and obligations are also transferred.
  • Termination can be based on objective grounds.
  • Dismissals are deemed null and void if the termination is discriminatory or concerns protected employees.

The main sources of Spanish employment law are:

  • The Spanish Constitution dated December 17, 1978
  • Various Royal Decrees
  • Applicable company collective agreements
  • Employment contracts
  • Habits and common usage
  • General principles of law

Employment Contract

Employment contracts can be concluded in writing or agreed verbally. However, verbal agreements are not very common. As an exception to the freedom of form permitted by Spanish labor legislation, certain employment contracts must be in writing, including, but not limited to, 

  • Temporary employment contracts
  • Contracts involving special labor relations (such as those concerning lawyers, top managers or commercial representatives) 
  • Part-time contracts

When an employment contract’s duration period is greater than four weeks, the employer,  must provide the employee the following information in writing within two months from the start of the employment relationship:

  • Identification of the parties to the employment
  • Date of commencement and the projected employment duration (for fixed-term or temporary contracts)
  • Address of the company and the workplace (if the worker is mobile or has no fixed place of work, this must be explicitly stated)
  • The professional group, description of the job and workers’ duties (including enough detail to know what specific job they will be performing)
  • Base salary as well as other compensation, benefits and frequency of payment
  • Working hours and how those hours are distributed
  • Total number of holidays
  • Mutual notice periods for termination of the employment relationship
  • Applicable collective bargaining agreement

Once the contract has been signed by both the employer and the employee, the employer must inform the public employment services of the contract and any extensions to the contract.

If it is a remote work contract, a remote work agreement must also be signed.

 

Contract Terms

Employers and employees are free to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment relationship. However, employees retain various minimum rights under the law, regardless of any contrary language in an employment agreement. These minimum working conditions are set forth in the Workers Statute and the applicable collective agreement, among other documents.

Probation Period / Trial Period

Where a probation period is agreed (provided that the worker has not performed the same functions before at the company under any type of employment contract, in which case the trial period would be null and void), it must be put in writing.

The time limits for trial periods may be established in the respective collective bargaining agreement and varies from 3-6 months. However, as a general rule and in the absence of any provision in the collective labour agreement, the probationary periods cannot exceed:

  • Six months for college and junior college graduate specialists.
  • Two months for all other employees.
  • At companies with fewer than twenty-five employees, the trial period for employees who are not college or junior college graduate specialists cannot exceed three months.
  • One month in the case of temporary fixed-term employment contracts which are less than six months. Moreover, training contracts, indefinite-term employment contract in support of entrepreneurs and special employment contracts (domestic workers, senior managers, among others) have their own specific trial periods.

During the trial period, the employer or the worker can freely terminate the contract without having to allege or prove any cause, without prior notice and with no right to any indemnity for either the worker or the employer.

A worker may be posted to a higher level position for a maximum of six months. They must rejoin his/her original work group or be promoted at the end of the six months.

If the worker has already worked with the employer in the same functions, or in the case of contract subrogations, there cannot be a probation period.

Working Hours

The Spanish working time regulations state that employees must (Workers’ Statute):

  • Not work (on an annual average) more than 40 hours a week. (Maximum working hours may differ as per Collective Bargaining Agreement)
  • Not work more than nine hours a day.
  • Be given at least 12 hours’ rest before starting the next day’s work.

In the month of August, working hours may not exceed 36 hours per week (‘jornada intensiva’). The remaining 4 hours per week (total 16 hours for 1 month of August) is to be fulfilled throughout the year. If the employee has a preference to work 40 hours per week in the month of August, it is recommended to sign an agreement of mutual understanding on this.

Rest time

Employees required to work more than six uninterrupted hours are entitled to a minimum 15­-minute break. Exceptions to these rules may apply for employees in certain industries and other specified employment relationships (such as senior executives, security guards or hospitality workers). Employees shall have the right to an uninterrupted minimum weekly break of one day and a half that may be accumulated for periods of up to fourteen days, which shall include Saturday afternoon or, as applicable, Monday morning and the whole day of Sunday.

Overtime

As a general rule, overtime hours are of voluntary acceptance by employees, with exceptions made for specific individuals and an applicable collective agreement. Overtime must be pre-approved by the company and under below circumstances:

  • To prevent or repair accidents, or other extraordinary and urgent damages.
  • Peak production periods, unforeseen absences, shift changes and other circumstances of a structural nature

Overtime hours can be compensated economically or with time for rest. If there is no agreement in this regard, it will be understood that the overtime hours must be compensated with resting time within the following 4 months (Refer to applied collective bargaining agreement).

According to statutory law, overtime cannot exceed 80 hours per year. In addition, there is a form of overtime that is considered as force majeure, wherein overtime is required due to the need to prevent or repair accidents, or other extraordinary and urgent damages. This type of overtime is mandatory for the employees and will not be taken into account for the annual maximum limit.

Statutory Bonuses

Employers must pay employees two “extraordinary bonuses” (‘gratificaciones extraordinarias’) each year. As a rule, one bonus is required to be paid at Christmas and the other in a month specified by an applicable collective agreement or an agreement between the employer and employee representatives. However, a collective agreement may provide for the bonuses to be paid in monthly installments. The law does not set the amount of the bonuses. This is instead left to collective agreements to decide. In practice, each bonus is usually equivalent to one month’s pay.

Contractual / Discretionary Bonus

In Spain, bonuses are defined as salary supplements in Article 26.3 of the Workers’ Statute (‘Estatuto de los Trabajadores’). This remuneration scheme is either based on company performance or on the employee meeting certain objectives. At the outset, the company should set the requirements that entitle an employee to receiving a bonus. The employer must ensure their employees are aware of the conditions and objectives that must be met in order to receive a bonus. Workers are entitled to receive payment of bonuses even if the employer has violated the disclosure obligations. Since a bonus has a salary nature, it must be included in the compensation in case of dismissal. There are only two possibilities that allow not including it:

  • if both parties have agreed not to include the bonus
  • the bonus was paid in exceptional circumstances (regardless of the achievement of certain goals)

Termination

Grounds for termination in Spain include the following: 

  • Mutual consent of the parties
  • Grounds established in the contract
  • Expiration of the contract term or completion of the specific job
  • Employee resignation
  • Death or permanent illness
  • Retirement of employee
  • Employer’s death, retirement or permanent illness
  • Force majeure that makes it impossible to continue rendering services 
  • Collective dismissal based on objective grounds
  • Employee’s voluntary departure based on a breach of contract (by the employer) 
  • Dismissal of employee

Collective Dismissals:

Terminations based on economic, technical organizational or productivity grounds are deemed collective when:

  • 10 workers are affected in companies with less than 100 workers
  • At least 10% of the employees are affected within a period of 90 days in companies that have between 100 and 300 workers
  • 30 workers in companies with 300 or more workers

Individual Dismissals:

Reasons for objective dismissal:

  • Worker’s incompetence
  • Worker’s inability to adapt to technical change
  • Lack of attendance at work
  • Layoffs based on economic, technical, organizational and or productivity grounds.

Labor courts are very restrictive in accepting dismissal based on business grounds. Hence, this procedure is very seldom used unless the grounds are absolutely clear (e.g., bankruptcy).

Reasons for disciplinary dismissal:

  • Repeated and unjustified lateness or absences
  • Lack of discipline or insubordination
  • Verbal or physical offense towards the employer, other people working in the company or residing family
  • Contravention of contractual good faith and misuse of trust
  • Continuous and voluntary decrease of the worker’s typical or agreed performance
  • Intoxication due to alcohol or drugs (if causing a negative effect at work)
  • Harassment based on race, religion, birth, gender, age, disability, opinion, social condition and sexual orientation

Disciplinary dismissals must be communicated by a written letter to the worker clearly and sufficiently stating the facts that motivated the dismissal and the date on which the dismissal will take effect.

Notice Period

The Labor Law requires that the party seeking to terminate an employment agreement provides the other party with a minimum of 15 days’ notice prior to termination. The parties involved in the contract may agree upon longer notice periods.

Redundancy / Severance Pay

A disciplinary dismissal does not entitle an employee to receive any compensation in the form of a severance payment from the company, unless a court ruling declares the dismissal unfair.

The severance pay resulting from an objective dismissal is a tax-free payment in the amount of 20 days’ salary per year of service. This can total up to 12 months’ salary. If the dismissal is deemed unfair by the judge or acknowledged as unfair by the company before the conciliation chamber or the court, the relevant tax-free severance is 33 days’ salary per year of service up to 24 months’ pay.

Severance compensation is calculated under two criteria: Seniority and daily salary. In case of objective or unfair disciplinary dismissal the severance will be calculated by multiplying the seniority by the daily salary and the days (20 in case of objective dismissal/ 33 in case of unfair dismissal). The daily salary is calculated taking into consideration the 12 last payments, and the company shall include all salary concepts, including salary in kind and extra-hours. Therefore, bonus, incentives and irregular payments are included. Only extra-salary concepts should be excluded. Stock Options are salary and are included in the computation for indemnity.

Timesheets

To meet with provisions set out by the European Court of Justice in 2019, companies should implement an objective, reliable and accessible system that allows recording of the daily workday performed by each employee.

Post-Termination Restraints / Restrictive Covenants

Definition

Restrictive Covenants are bilateral agreements signed between an employer and an employee. They are used to protect key business information. However, they can be deemed to represent a limitation of the right to work and the free choice of profession or trade. Hence, any restriction of this constitutional right must be performed in compliance with all requirements established by labor law. Non-competition rights and obligations are regulated in Spain’s Statute of Workers.

Types of Restrictive Covenants:

Non -Compete Clauses

Non-competition agreements are intended to prevent an employee from working in a competing company or sector following the termination of employment. A non-compete obligation following the termination of the employment contract (which must not last longer than two years for technicians and six months for other workers) will only be valid if both of the following requirements are met:

  • the employer has an effective industrial or commercial interest in such non-compete obligation
  • the employee is paid adequate economic compensation

Non -solicitation of customers

Agreements on the non-solicitation of customers are not specifically regulated by Spain’s labor laws but case law has considered these types of agreements valid within the scope of the non-compete clause as described above. 

Non -solicitation of employees

Spanish Labor Legislation does not specifically regulate this type of restriction but case law has considered this restriction valid within the scope of the non-compete clause as described above. 

Enforcement of Restrictive Covenants —process and remedies:

If the employee breaches the non-competition agreement, he or she will be required to return the amount received for this concept and may be required to pay damages (should the company provide evidence of damage). If there is doubt when determining the amount of compensation to be returned or if the employee refuses to comply with the agreed payment as compensation, the employer can appeal to a social court or an arbitrator (when specifically agreed) to settle said amounts. Likewise, the employee can file a claim against the employer if the agreed compensation was not paid. However, the non-compete clause remains in full effect. The clause itself can be declared void if the legal requirements explained above were not met. However, the agreement can be canceled if both parties agree to it. However, it can not be canceled or waived unilaterally.

Trade Unions / Collective Agreements

The Spanish Constitution gives unions the authority to promote and defend the economic interests of workers. It also empowers unions to represent workers in collective bargaining and to engage in the preliminary mandatory conciliation steps before disputes can be presented to government conciliation agencies.

Freedom of association and representation are fundamental rights provided in the Spanish Constitution. All employees (except senior executives such as general managers) are represented by the elected representatives. There is no distinction between blue and white-collar representatives in Spain. There are two types of employees’ representation, depending on the company’s size: individual delegates and works councils.

Fixed Term Contracts

In principle, employment contracts are presumed to be for an indefinite term. There are, however, a limited number of definite-term employment agreements. If the employee continues to work past the original term of the temporary agreement, the relationship becomes indefinite in time and the employee becomes entitled to the standard severance upon termination. Fixed term contracts are very restrictive and highly controlled, we require valid reasons for Fixed Term Contracts, and they limited to the following scenarios:

  • To deal with an increase in the company’s workload, resulting from market circumstances, backlog of work or an excess of orders (an applicable collective agreement may identify the relevant activities and stipulate the proportion of a company’s workforce that can be employed on fixed-term contracts for this reason).
  • To substitute for an employee who is absent (e.g. on maternity leave) but has a right to return to their job, or to cover a vacant position until it is filled.
  • For any of the above reasons that justify signing FTCs, you can use FTCs within 18 months from the moment the cause arose (i.e. 18 months from the time when the overload started). The maximum term for the FTC is 6 months, which can be extended for another six (depending on Collective Bargaining Agreement). Fixed term contracts cannot be made for the same position, whether to a same or different person.

Tax and Social Security

Personal Income Tax

Individuals who are resident in Spain for tax purposes are generally subject to personal income tax (PIT) on their worldwide income, regardless of where it is generated. This income is taxed following statutory reductions at progressive rates. Non-residents are subject to NRIT only on their income sourced in Spain. 

There are two types of taxable income for Spanish PIT purposes: general taxable income and savings taxable income:

General taxable income includes:

  • All income that is not savings 
  • Capital gains not generated from transfers of assets (e.g. lottery winnings)
  • Income allocations, attributions or imputations (as established by law)
  • Interest and other income generated after transferring the taxpayer’s own capital to a related company (if the capital exceeds three times the latter’s equity)

Progressive tax rates are applied to general taxable income,  These are based on the sum of the applicable rate approved by the state and the applicable rate approved by each autonomous community of Spain in their progressive tax rate scales. Tax liability may therefore differ from one autonomous community to another. While most employers in Spain submit these payments to Spain’s Tax Authority, employers in the Basque and Navarra regions submit income taxes to local authorities. 

The scale below can be used as a guideline of the progressive tax rates applicable for the general taxable base. However, the scale applicable in the corresponding autonomous community of Spain should always be consulted to calculate the total progressive tax rate. 

Tax scale for withholdings applicable in 2020

Taxable Base (up to EUR) Tax Liability (EUR) Excess of Taxable Base (up to EUR) Tax Rate (%)
0 0 12,450 19.0
12,450 2,365.60 7,750 24.0
20,200 4,225.50 15,000 30.0
35,200 8,725.50 24,800 37.0
60,000 17,901.50 Remainder 45.0

Social Security

The legal framework for social security is derived primarily from the Social Security Act 1/1994. In Spain, the social security’s national insurance contributions cover: 

  • Common contingencies, these contributions cover the situations included in the Social Security’s general regime,
  • Professional contingencies cover expenses resulting from labor accidents and occupational diseases
  • Overtime
  • Other provisions such as unemployment, training or the wage guarantee fund
  • Public medical care to all affiliated workers

Social security contributions are paid on salaries and wages. In Spain, the minimum monthly base is EUR 1,166.70 and the maximum is EUR 4,139.40 in 2022. The general contribution rates from January 2020 are 6.35% for employees, depending on the type of contract, and 29.90% for employers, plus a variable rate for accidents at work (for example, 1.5% for office work). Spain must pay their employees monthly, or more frequently depending on the employment contract or collective agreements.

*The above rates serve as a broad guideline. Actual rates charged by GoGlobal will differ.

Employees

Salary Payment

Employers in Spain must pay their employees on a monthly basis, or more frequently depending on the employment contract or collective bargaining agreements.

The total annual compensation package will be divided into 14 months:

  • 12-month salary
  • 13th month in June
  • 14th month in Christmas

The 13th and 14th month must be paid within the 15 and 20 of each month. If the employee has not worked for the whole month, it will be calculated and prorated.

All payments must be made by cheque or direct bank deposit, and, for payments made by cheque, the employer must provide a payslip with the amount of payment and withholdings to be signed by the employee.

Payslip

The employee will typically receive an official monthly payslip (‘nómina’) by the end of each month. This legal document proves the contractual relationship with the employer and the exchange of the provided services and payment. The employee must sign two copies, one of which is kept by the employer and the other one is for the employee. The payslip is separated into three distinct sections:

  • Header which must include information about the employer and employee
  • Body which contains information about the worked period, earnings and deductions
  • Footer which contains information about the rates used in calculating the payment

Annual Leave

Annual leave is set in collective bargaining agreements or individual contracts and may never be less than 30 natural calendar days (which normally equates to 23 working days). It may not be replaced by financial compensation. Leave entitlement is reduced proportionally for periods of employment for less than a year. Wherever possible, the holiday calendar is established in each company by mutual agreement between workers and employers.

Carry Over Rules: Companies normally would allow vacations that have not been enjoyed in the year to be rolled over to the first quarter of the following year.

Sick Leave

Any sick leave compensation depends on the length of the absence:

  • The first 3 days of the sick leave: the company will pay.
  • From the 4th to the 15th day of the sick leave: an allowance consisting of 60% of the calculation basis is to be paid by the company.
  • From the 16th to the 20th day of the sick leave: an allowance consisting of 60% of the calculation basis is to be paid by social security.
  • From the 21st day of the sick leave: an allowance consisting of 75% of the calculation basis is to be paid by social security.
  • If an employee is absent due to an accident at work, employers must make a payment of 75% of salary, but this is then reimbursed to the employer by Spain’s National Institute of Social Security.

The company pays the corresponding amount to the worker and this amount is refunded by social security to the company.

A minimum previous contribution period of 180 days’ worth of social security contributions in the previous 5 years has to be fulfilled for the Spanish Social Security covers part of the worker’s salary, except where the incapacity is due to an occupational illness or accident at work.

A worker’s period of sick leave cannot exceed one year; however, the National Institute of Social Security (INSS) may extend the sick leave by 6 months if it considers that the worker can recover in that period of time.

** Please refer to collective bargaining agreement as this can be more favourable than the minimum terms set out above.

 

Additional Paid Leave

In the following circumstances, employees are entitled to receive their full salaries for the periods indicated:

  • Fifteen calendar days in case of marriage
  • The time required to comply with a public obligation (e.g., voting or jury duties)
  • One day for relocating to a new residence
  • For tests and examinations prior to childbirth and training prior to adoption or fostering, (whatever time is needed where these events coincide with working hours)
  • For premature births involving hospitalization of the newborn: one hour per working day
  • For breastfeeding children under nine months of age, workers are entitled to one hour of absence from work per day (or half an hour if taken at the beginning or end of the working day). This leave may be taken either by the mother or the father, if both are working. 
  • For legal guardianship of a child under 12 or of a person with a disability, the employee is entitled to a reduction of the working day by between one-eighth and one-half. 
  • To fulfill public and personal obligations (jury duty, appearance in court, etc.), the employee will be granted as long as necessary to complete the obligation. 
  • To perform trade union or workers’ representation duties, the time off will be established by law or collective agreement.

In all cases, in order to exercise their right to leave, workers must notify the employer in advance and provide proof of the reason for their absence.

Compassionate & Bereavement Leave

Employees are entitled to two days paid leave in case of the death, accident or illness of a close relative. This increases to four days if travel is required. 

Workers are entitled to request leave to care for family members for:

  • the maximum duration of three years to care for each child
  • one year (which is extendable by collective bargaining agreement) to care for a blood relation or relation by marriage up to the second degree or similar, who for reasons of age, accident or illness cannot look after themselves and do not perform paid work.

Handicapped Family Member Leave

The Statute of Workers also guarantees employees unpaid leave of up to two years to take care of a close family member (parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, first cousin, niece or nephew) in the event the family member is handicapped or is deemed by the health authorities to be unable to execute the most basic activities of daily living without help from a third person.

Voluntary Unpaid Leave

Employees with at least a year’s tenure are entitled to the voluntary unpaid leave of between four months and five years. Following the exercise of this right, no other voluntary unpaid leave may be taken for four years. Following unpaid leave, the employee is entitled to be reinstated in their previous professional category but not necessarily in the same position. Time taken for unpaid voluntary leave is not accounted for in the calculation of seniority.

Maternity & Parental Leave

A new Royal Decree introduced a novelty in paid leaves for birth and adoption, which applies to all births occurring after April 1, 2019. This regulation aims to achieve effective equality between men and women in employment in the promotion of personal and family life, allowing time for both parents to enjoy the leave for birth and adoption. The term “paternity leave” has been replaced by “partner leave,” referring to the parent other than the biological mother.

Maternity & Partner leave: 16 weeks. The mother & father must take 6 of these weeks immediately after the birth or adoption. The remaining 10 weeks can be organised at the parents’ discretion (to be taken in blocks of 1 week) until the child is twelve months old. The biological mother can commence maternity leave up to four weeks before the expected date of birth.

Unpaid leave (‘excedencia’): Once the maternity leave has ended, the mother or father have a right to ask for unpaid leave until the child is 3 years old. These days can either be taken all together or in different periods. The company must retain the same job for this person for the first year. For the subsequent year, the company only has to guarantee that the person will have the “same type” of job.

Reduction of working hours: The employee (mother or father) have a right to ask for a reduction of working hours if they have a child younger than 12 years old. In this case, the employee will only receive the salary according to the base hours worked. The company cannot dismiss the employee, or the dismissal can be declared invalid (“nulo”).

Adoption rights: Each adoptive or foster parent receives 6 weeks of mandatory uninterrupted leave which they should take during the first 12 months after the child comes into their home. The law extends this leave on a voluntary basis for up to 16 weeks for each adoptive parent, and two extra weeks for each additional child. Also, one parent can leave the other parent up to 6 weeks of their leave.

Pregnancy leave: Pregnant workers shall have the right to be absent from work, with the right to remuneration, to carry out prenatal examinations, but the employer has to be informed in a timely manner.

Nursing leave: Workers who are nursing a child under nine months of age shall be entitled to one hour of absence from work at a time to be chosen by them, and which may be divided into two parts, one at the beginning and one at the end of the day. The worker must notify the employer fifteen days in advance of the date on which she will return to her usual working hours. It is also permissable to accumulate this leave which normally equates to 15/20 days off.

Public Holidays

Each municipality is allowed to declare a maximum of 14 public holidays per year; up to ten of these are chosen by the national government, two from the autonomous community and two from the municipality.

Benefits to the Employee in Spain

Statutory Benefits

Spain has a comprehensive social security system covering over 90% of the population. It includes:

  • Healthcare (plus sickness and maternity)
  • Industrial injuries
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Old age (pensions)
  • Invalidity and death benefits

Other Benefits

Common additional employment benefits include:

  • Variable pay 
  • Company car 
  • Pension plan 
  • Private health insurance

Visas and Foreign Workers

General Information

EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals

According to the principle of free movement of persons, goods, services and capital, EU (European Union) and EEA (European Economic Area) and Swiss nationals can be employed in Spain without restriction.

Non-EU, EEA or Swiss Nationals

To work in Spain as a highly-skilled employee, non-EU citizens need to locate a job categorized as a ‘Shortage Occupation.’ This is a job for which there is a lack of suitable candidates within the EU. The employer will then request a Work Visa from the Ministry of Labor. The supporting documentation needed is quite extensive and it must be submitted in Spanish. Work permit applications can take six to eight months to process. Once the Ministry of Labor has approved the application, the embassy or consulate issues the work and residence visa. The candidate will need to file a residence visa application in their usual country of residence. He or she will usually be required to present a police clearance certificate and an original birth certificate to be granted this visa.

The EU Blue Card is for individuals who spent at least three years completing a higher education qualification which enables them to work as a skilled professional. People who have a minimum of five years’ professional experience at a high level are also eligible. The employer submits the application on the behalf of the applicant. A work contract involving a salary which is at least 50% more than the average wage in Spain (or at least 20% more if the skills are in demand) is a requirement. If approved, the worker will need to apply for a visa from a Spanish embassy or consulate in their home country. Blue cards are valid for one year but can be renewed if the required conditions are still met.

In order to be employed on a Spanish work permit, the candidate must:

  • Have the appropriate skills, qualifications and experience to fill the position
  • Be of good character (no criminal record)
  • Be of good health
  • Have a guaranteed job offer in Spain

Preference is given to candidates with some demonstrable link to Spain as well as Latin American citizens.

Getting a Tax Number

Everyone who conducts legal or financial activities in Spain needs a Spanish tax identification number. The tax number is a form of identification used primarily for tax purposes but also for a range of other financial and legal transactions. These include opening a Spanish bank account or getting a driving license. The Spanish Ministry of the Interior (‘Ministerio del Interior’) issues tax numbers. 

NIF (‘Numero de Identificacion Fiscal’)

The NIF is the tax ID for Spanish citizens. It consists of the individual’s Spanish ID number (DNI) plus one letter, hence the Spanish NIF number consists of eight numbers plus two letters.

NIE ‘(Número de identificación de Extranjero’)

The NIE is the tax ID for foreigners and non-citizens, including non-residents with Spanish property or carrying out legal or financial transactions in Spain. The NIE consists of a letter, seven digits and another letter.

Applying for a Spanish tax number

For foreign residents, those from the EU/EFTA must apply for an NIE number after three months of residence in Spain. Those from outside the EU/EFTA will typically file their NIE application along with their application for Spanish residency. Tax numbers can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks to be issued, depending on where the application is filed. Tax numbers are typically printed on a document in a certificate format. Applications can be made in any of the following ways:

  • a processing office of a local police station (if residing in Spain)
  • the Provincial Tax Office of the individual’s local municipality (if living in Spain and applying for a CIF for a business)
  • a Spanish embassy or consulate if the individual is living abroad (most commonly used by non-residents with property or conducting business in Spain)
  • an authorized Spanish resident (e.g., lawyer, notary, friend or family member) holding power of attorney to represent the individual

If a person lives in Spain and decides to take Spanish citizenship, they will not need to make a separate application for a Spanish NIF number. They can carry on using their NIE number until their NIF number arrives, which will happen shortly after receipt of their official Spanish ID card.

The requirements for obtaining a Spanish tax number vary from one processing office to another. Typical requirements for individual tax numbers are:

  • a completed application form (can be obtained at the processing office)
  • valid ID
  • proof of address
  • proof of power of attorney (if the application is being made through a third-party representative)

Public Holidays in 2022

S.No Occasion Date
1. New Year’s Day January 1st
2. Epiphany January 6th
3. Holy Thursday* April 14th
4. Good Friday April 15th
5. Labour Day* May 1st
6. St. James Day* July 25th
7. Assumption Day August 15th
8. Spain National Holiday October 12th
9. All Saints’ Day November 1st
10. Spanish Constitution Day December 6th
11. Immaculate Conception December 8th
12. Christmas Day* December 25th

*May differ depending on autonomous community

Note: 2 days local public holiday not included

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