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Source: EURES The European Job Mobility Portal. For up-to-date information visit the Living and Working Conditions section about Spain on the EURES Portal.

How to find a job

Remember that to work in Spain you must speak Spanish. Apart from the EURES network, the main job search systems are:

PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT SERVICES. The Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal - SEPE [Spain’s National Public Employment Service] and the employment services run by the Autonomous Communities have a nationwide network of employment offices. To register you must be over 16, have a valid identity card or passport and have an address. When filling in much of your personal and professional information, the employment service will ask you for documentary proof of that information (qualifications, work contracts, etc.). 

Addresses of employment offices can be found in the telephone directory or on the SEPE website, which has links to all the public employment services run by the Autonomous Communities. Most of these websites provide information on job vacancies, training courses and job-seeking guides. ‘Empléate’ [get employed] is a virtual mediation site which can be accessed from the SEPE website.

PLACEMENT AGENCIES, RECRUITMENT AGENCIES AND TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES. Public employment services are not the only ones operating on the job market: Placement agencies, which must be licensed by the public employment services and provide services free of charge, may also act as intermediaries on the labour market, as may specialised personnel recruitment firms that usually advertise their vacancies in the press and on the internet.

Temporary employment agencies, always identified by the initials ETT, hire workers directly and then assign them to user companies which manage and oversee the work to be carried out. They are especially useful for those seeking temporary work.

THE MEDIA. All Spanish national, regional and provincial newspapers have a daily section for job vacancies, although most job vacancies are published in the Sunday papers. Television channels and radio stations have specific programmes devoted to employment. One example is the well-known television programme called ‘Aquí hay trabajo’, which is broadcast from Monday to Friday at 09.30 on channel 2 (RTVE). There are other employment-related programmes broadcast on regional channels.

INTERNET AND APPLICATIONS (apps). Companies are increasingly turning to the internet to advertise their employment vacancies. Companies usually advertise their vacancies on their websites under ‘Recursos Humanos’ [human resources], ‘Empleo’ [employment] or under ‘Trabaja para nosotros’ [‘Work for us’].

The world of applications (apps) is currently expanding very quickly. Companies are not only seeking to improve the usefulness of their websites, but sometimes even replace their sites with a view to expanding and improving access for users wherever they are.

NETWORKING. Personal contacts and networking are very useful when looking for work. If you have friends or family in Spain, it is a good idea to mention that you are looking for work because many job vacancies are filled through such contacts and referrals. It may also be worthwhile participating in professional online forums, since social networks are playing an increasingly important role in active job search strategies in Spain.

PUBLIC SECTOR. If your aim is to work in the public sector, you must consult the notices for open competitions published in the official state gazettes [Boletín Oficial del Estado] of the autonomous regions and provinces. You can also obtain information on open competitions from the Spanish government website ‘Portal del Ciudadano’ [Citizens’ Portal].

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How to apply for a job

A good CV, accompanied by a cover letter, is a very important tool when it comes to applying for a job in a company in your sector (speculative application), or responding to a job advertisement. After the publication of a job offer, the first contact between a business and a candidate is the cover letter and CV. The CV is a document which contains the necessary personal and professional information of the candidate, highlighting all the positive and valuable aspects of his/her experience. The purpose of the CV is to obtain a personal interview. Statistics show that 75 % of candidates are rejected on the basis of their CV before the interview phase. The CV has therefore become an advertising tool for job seekers and, as such, is a very important document which must be prepared carefully.


While some companies provide an application form, it is common practice to send a CV and a cover letter, whether in reply to a vacancy notice or as an unsolicited application. 

This is not simply a formality; this is how you present yourself to the company and make a first impression. Unless otherwise indicated, both the letter and CV must be drafted in Spanish on a computer and in A4 format. The letter should be concise and use formal language; avoid using standard letters designed for any type of job offer. Both documents must be directly related to the job opening advertised. 

Cover letter

Drafting a letter in response to an advertisement: 

Read the advertisement or job offer carefully. 

Analyse the company’s needs. What kind of professional are they looking for? 

Tailor your letter accordingly: highlight those aspects of your CV which you think will arouse interest based on the needs of the company that has placed the job offer.

Drafting a letter to be sent on your own initiative (speculative application):

This is for when you send your CV to a business on your own initiative in the hope that it will be taken into account when a vacancy opens up or a new post is created. 

Try to obtain as much information as possible about the company and its needs. 

Find a reason to show why you are interested in working for them. 

Select those aspects of your CV that you think will be of particular interest to the company.


Upper left: sender’s name, surname, address and telephone number. Below, also on the left, the name of the company and the person to whom it is addressed. Lastly, include the place and date of the letter, together with the job reference. 

Salutation: You can use expressions such as ‘Estimado Sr./Sra.’ [Dear Sir/Madam], although it is better to send the letter directly to the person in charge of recruitment. 

Body of the letter: You should explain why you are applying for the job, highlighting the aspects of your CV that make you particularly suitable for that position. It should not simply be a repetition of the information contained in your CV.

Closing: use formal expressions such as: ‘En espera de sus noticias, le saluda atentamente’ [Yours faithfully]. 

Sign the letter and write your name and surname under the signature.

Curriculum Vitae

There is no single template for a CV. For your CV to be effective, adapt it to each job offer, bearing in mind your training and professional career and the details of the specific opening. You may change the order of the sections or paragraphs if this makes the CV more effective. For example, you may put experience before training when you believe that, for a certain job, your experience is more important than your studies.  4 Basic TEMPLATES 

  • Ascending chronological order: if you have little experience, order the dates chronologically, thereby showing positive development. 
  • Descending chronological order: if you have a lot of experience, or if you want to find work similar to that in which you have recently been involved, order the dates from the most recent to the earliest. 
  • Functional: sort the data on the CV according to the professional field if you have worked in two or more sectors which appear to be different or that are not clearly linked to one another. 
  • European: particularly appropriate if you wish to apply for a job in the European Union.

TIPS. Your CV must be done on a computer and be well laid-out, clear and concise. It is best to limit it to two DIN A4 pages. It is not compulsory to attach a photograph, although this may be useful for some jobs. Photocopies of qualifications and certificates are not normally attached (unless expressly requested) as these are usually brought to the interview. Direct language should be used. It is best to keep sentences simple and avoid using acronyms and abbreviations.

In the Spanish business world, companies often only contact candidates who have passed the recruitment or selection stage.


  • Personal details: name, nationality, full address, telephone number (including international dialling code), email address, etc. 
  • Training: include both academic achievements and additional training. Knowledge of foreign languages and IT skills are normally included in a separate paragraph. Regarding academic achievements, focus particularly on qualification(s) relating to the job you are applying for, mentioning the awarding body, place of study and date you obtained your qualification. 
  • Experience: this may be listed in chronological or reverse chronological order, or by professional fields. Provide the name of the company, job title, dates and the tasks performed. 
  • Other information: this section is optional and adaptable. It is used to provide any information which may prove relevant to the job, for example whether you have a driving licence, are willing to travel, etc. References are not normally included, although the expression ‘References provided upon request’ may be used.

Template CVs and advice on how to draft your CV are available on most public employment websites in Spain.

The Europass CV is an alternative to conventional CV templates, particularly when you are seeking a job in another European country. It allows candidates to submit their personal details, skills and qualifications in a standard European format and is available in 22 European languages.


In Spain, selection processes are typically based on interviews and occasionally involve psychometric and/or job-related tests.

In view of the importance of this interview, it is advisable to prepare yourself properly by finding out what the company does and thinking about your abilities, attitudes and the contribution you could make to the company if they were to employ you. The interview may be with just one interviewer or various interviewers at the same time, depending on the company and the position.

PSYCHOMETRIC TESTS. At this point in the selection process, you should realise that the company needs to analyse the individual differences between the various candidates for a job. A test is simply a way of gathering information about a person and psychometric tests are standard instruments that measure abilities, capacities, personality traits, interests, professional values, etc. Seventy-five percent of companies in Spain use psychometric tests in their selection processes. There are two types: aptitude tests and personality tests.

JOB-RELATED TESTS. Job-related tests are used to assess one’s knowledge of a specific profession. These may take the form of exams, technical questionnaires, simulation exercises, etc.

GROUP DYNAMICS. An increasing number of companies are including group exercises in their selection processes. In these role-play exercises, several candidates hold a meeting which is observed by the technical staff in charge of the selection process to assess how each participant behaves at the meeting. They sometimes simulate professional situations and other times dilemmas or even moral issues are raised.

ASSESSMENT CENTRE. The assessment centre is a selection methodology which is being used increasingly by companies. It lasts for one to two days and is used to assess candidates’ skills in a variety of situations that simulate what it would be like to work at that company. It assesses motivation, the ability to work under pressure, verbal and written communication skills, leadership, team work, skills of persuasion, analysis and interpretation of data, etc.

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Finding accommodation


If you plan on renting a flat during your stay in Spain, the best way to go about it is to check the accommodation sections of all the newspapers. You could also go directly to an estate agent or check the internet or estate agent listings in the Yellow Pages (páginas amarillas). 

While you are looking for somewhere to live, you could go to a Tourist Office, where they will be able to give you a list of available temporary accommodation.

Buying a property:

Many estate agents in the EEA currently handle the purchase of Spanish properties. In Spain you can contact a local estate agent. If you want to stay abreast of market prices for new housing, the Sociedad de Tasación [Property Appraisal Company] conducts a comprehensive market survey which analyses new private housing developments being built in all provincial capitals. 

The current 2018-2021 Housing Plan includes assistance for purchasing a home; specific rental assistance will also be made available for young people and those over 65, with special emphasis on renovating dwellings and energy efficiency.

The Ministerio de Fomento [Ministry of Public Works] publishes information on this national Housing Plan on its website. 

As part of their services for young people, some Autonomous Communities offer general information on leasing and purchasing/selling property, specialised legal information, press information on rented and shared accommodation, etc. 

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Recognition of diplomas and qualifications

The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:

  • An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
  • The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

  1. The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

  1. The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  1. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

  1. Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents

  • a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
  • a language passport,
  • certificate supplements,
  • diploma supplements, and
  • a Europass-Mobility document.

The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.

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Types of employment

The minimum working age in Spain is 16, with authorisation from parents or guardians needed until the age of 18.

However, persons under the age of 18 may not work night shifts, overtime or in conditions considered unhealthy, strenuous, harmful or dangerous.

In exceptional circumstances, people under 16 may take part in public performances as long as such participation does not endanger their health or compromise their education.

An employment contract may be in writing or agreed verbally (in certain circumstances) All contracts, with the exception of training contracts, may be agreed on a full-time or a part-time basis.

Current labour regulations include four general types of contracts:

Open-ended contract: these work contracts are agreed between employers and workers and do not have any specific end date. There are several different types depending on the group the worker falls into (young people, disabled persons, persons over 52, persons at risk of social exclusion, etc.).

Fixed-term contract: the employment relationship is established for a given period and may be on a full-time or part-time basis. The contracts are concluded in writing, except in cases of temporary full-time employment for production contingencies for up to a maximum period of four weeks.

There are 32 different types of fixed-term contracts where the temporary nature is justified by the purpose of the contract, the aim of encouraging employment, by the specific function or the public interest of the recruitment.

Work-experience contract: the following requirements: The purpose of this kind of contract is for the worker to acquire professional experience related to previous studies. The worker must hold a university degree or a mid- or higher-level vocational training qualification or equivalent, or a ‘certificado de profesionalidad’ [professional qualification certificate], and no more than five years may have elapsed since completing the relevant studies or since an equivalence certification was issued in Spain (seven years where the contract is concluded with a disabled worker). For workers less than 30 years old, the date on which they completed their studies is not taken into account.

The term of this contract may not be less than six months or more than two years.

Contract for training and learning: This is a tool designed to encourage integration into the labour market and training of young people, alternating paid work with training activities. These contracts may be concluded with workers over 16 and under 25 who do not have the qualifications required to enter into a work experience contract. Some groups are eligible for employment under the terms of a training contract even though they are over the age limit.  The minimum term is one year and the maximum three years, and the contract may only be on a full-time basis.

There are three types: where the contracting party is a temporary employment agency; where the trainee worker is taking part in an employment and training scheme run by a regional employment administration; or where the worker has a disability.

Spain is one of the OECD countries with the highest temporary employment rate and with a large proportion of contracts of 6 months or less than 6 months of duration. According to Eurostat, middle-aged employees (25-49 years) in Spain have a temporary employment rate of 28 % compared to 13.1 % in the EU countries. Temporality in Spain is therefore something structural and common, and in many cases it is not linked to a specific seasonality for production purposes or for a specific service or professional activity (agriculture and tourism for instance). As a result, talking about "Seasonal work" or looking for seasonal work in Spain does not differ much from searching a long-term job.


The Tourism sector in Spain is very relevant for the economy (12.3 % of GDP in 2018) but this activity is mostly seasonal, starting at Easter and ending in September / October. In the Canary Islands though, the season is longer. Due to the sanitary crisis caused by COVID19, a "State of Alarm" began in Spain on March 15th, stopping the hospitality sector activities (HORECA). The economic activity is now gradually going back to normal, with the established hygienic and preventive measures, such as social distancing and the compulsory use of face masks. (See guides of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism to avoid contact https://www.mincotur.gob.es/es-es/COVID-19/Paginas/Guias-sector-turistico.aspx

Workers in this sector are mostly temporary and are usually hired under the modality of "temporary", "work or service" or "Fixed discontinuous". You can consult it on this link: http://www.sepe.es/HomeSepe/COVID-19/medidas-flexibilizacion-empleo-agrario.html 


Despite the fact the agriculture sector is not as important as tourism for the Spanish economy (2.7 % of GDP in 2017), this activity is certainly noticeable in some regions, i.e. Andalusia, Murcia, Valencia and Extremadura. Temporary workers are usually hired under the modality of temporary or short -term employment contracts.

The Spanish government has already adopted special flexibility measures for agricultural employment, which can be found on this link: http://www.sepe.es/HomeSepe/COVID-19/medidas-flexibilizacion-empleo- agrario.html 

In addition, other measures have been announced for immigrant workers involved in seasonal agricultural campaigns, which can be found on the following link: http://sepe.es/HomeSepe/que-es-el-sepe/comunicacion-institucional/noticias/detalle-noticia.html?folder=/2020/Junio/&detail=subvenciones-migrantes-campana-agricola-2020 


The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation has developed a service to facilitate the international job mobility both to employers and workers. For this purpose, a telephone platform has been provided, and with a simple call to 060 (+34 911252122 calling from abroad), users can ask specific questions about issues related to the requirements and conditions regarding prevention and sanitary procedures in different EU countries. 


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Employment contracts

Employment contracts may be in writing or agreed verbally, but verbal agreements are not very common. Verbal agreements are currently only permitted where the term is less than four weeks in the category of temporary work due to production circumstances. All other types of contracts must be in writing and employers must provide workers with the following information:

  • information identifying the company and the worker; 
  • 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 start date and the expected end date for fixed-term contracts; 
  • the professional group and description of the job and workers’ duties, with enough detail to know what specific job they will be doing;
  • the basic salary, additional salary elements and frequency of payment; 
  • working hours and how those hours are distributed;
  • duration of holiday leave and the reason for which it is pre-assigned in some cases, etc.;
  • mutual notice periods for termination of the employment relationship;
  • the applicable collective bargaining agreement.

Once the contract has been signed by both parties, the employer must inform the public employment services of the content and any extensions to the contract. This can be done electronically using the contrat@ application.

probationary period may be established in the contract. The maximum duration of this period is six months for qualified technicians and two months for all other workers. 

During the probationary period the employment relationship may be terminated by either of the parties for any reason, without any notice or compensation.

The probationary period is counted for the purposes of length of service, and during this period the worker has the same rights and obligations as the other workers.

While employment terms and conditions may be changed during the term of employment, employers must comply with the requirements and procedures laid down in the labour laws. These changes relate to functional and geographic mobility and substantial changes in working conditions.

Workers have the right to terminate their contract if they do not want to relocate, and are entitled to compensation amounting to 20 days’ pay per year worked (up to a maximum of 12 months’ salary) in the case of functional and geographic mobility, or up to a maximum of nine months’ salary in the case of substantial changes in working conditions.

In the event of any of the above types of changes to working conditions, it is advisable to immediately contact trade union representatives at the company or the trade unions themselves.

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Working time


The duration of the working day or week is stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement or in the contract itself. In any case, the maximum normal working time is 40 hours per week, on average, computed on a yearly basis.

The normal working hours should be evenly distributed for each day. However, an agreement may be reached through collective bargaining or by agreement between the employer and workers’ representatives for working hours to be distributed unevenly over the year, provided that the minimum daily and weekly rest periods established by law are complied with.

As a general rule, the working day may not exceed nine hours (eight hours for workers under the age of 18), which must include a rest period of at least 15 minutes (30 minutes for workers under the age of 18).

At least 12 hours must elapse between the end of one working day and the beginning of the next one. 

Workers are entitled to a minimum weekly rest period of one and a half uninterrupted days. These days generally include the whole of Sunday and either Saturday afternoon or Monday morning. 

The minimum weekly rest period for workers under 18 is two uninterrupted days. 

Those under 18 may not work at night.

The law provides for extensions and reductions of the working day according to the sector and special characteristics of the job and for certain groups.

It also sets out the possibility for workers to be entitled to reduced working hours for family-related reasons, and for a reduced working day for victims of gender-based violence and victims of terrorism. 

Overtime: this is work performed over and above the maximum number of normal working hours. Overtime is voluntary, unless agreed in a collective agreement or work contract, or where required to prevent or remedy accidents or other extraordinary or urgent damage.

Overtime at night is prohibited, except in duly specified and expressly authorised special activities. It is also prohibited for people under 18. 

Overtime may be remunerated or compensated for with rest time.

Workers may work a maximum of 80 overtime hours per year. If an employee works fewer hours than the company’s standard working hours, the ceiling on overtime is reduced proportionally.

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Leave (annual holiday, parental leave, etc.)

Annual leave: annual leave is set in collective bargaining agreements or individual contracts and may never be less than 30 calendar days.

It may not be replaced by financial compensation.

Wherever possible, the holiday calendar is established in each company by mutual agreement between workers and employers. 

Paid leave: Workers are entitled to paid time off for the following reasons and periods of time:

  • for marriage, 15 calendar days;
  • for death, accident or serious illness or hospitalisation of a family member, two calendar days, or four if travel is required;
  • for moving house, one day; 
  • for tests and examinations prior to childbirth, and training prior to adoption or fostering, whatever time is needed where this coincides with working hours; 
  • for premature births involving hospitalisation 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, reduction of the working day by between one-eighth and one-half;
  • to fulfil public and personal obligations (jury duty, appearance in court, etc.), as long as necessary;
  • to perform trade union or workers’ representation duties, the time established by law or collective agreement.

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

Public holidays: set each year.

  • There are 14 public holidays per year, two of which are local holidays. In any case, the following holidays are observed as national public holidays: Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, 1 May (Labour Day) and 12 October (Spanish National Day). 

If the holiday falls on a Sunday, the day off is moved to the following Monday.

Unpaid leave: this is time off work without pay, requested by the worker and which may be granted at the discretion of the employer, but must always be included in an individual or collective agreement.

Unpaid leave is not regulated by law.

Sick leave: this protects workers temporarily unable to work and in need of medical assistance due to illness or accident. In these cases, workers are paid at least 60 % of their income. The employer normally pays the worker this temporary sick pay, and is then reimbursed by the Social Security Department. Sick leave can last for up to 18 months, after which time the situation will be reviewed.

Maternity and paternity leave: Maternity leave is for an uninterrupted period of 16 weeks (two additional weeks for each child after the second child in cases of multiple births). This time may be taken as the mother wishes, provided that six weeks fall immediately subsequent to the birth. Apart from these six weeks of compulsory postpartum leave for the mother, if both parents work, part of the total leave granted may be taken by the father.

After the entry into force of Royal Decree-Law No 6/2019 of 1 March on urgent measures for guaranteeing equal treatment and equal opportunities for women and men in employment and work, in the event of a birth of a child, the other parent will be entitled to suspend their contract for eight weeks, the first two weeks of which must be taken immediately after the birth.

For adoption or fostering a child, each parent will be entitled to suspend their contract for six weeks, which may be extended to 12 more weeks in total for both parents. The abovementioned law provides that such leave will be gradually extended until 2021, with the aim of ensuring that leave entitlements for the birth, adoption or fostering of a child are equal for both parents.

Leaves of absence: a leave of absence is defined as the situation where the employment contract is suspended at the request of the worker, who will thus neither work nor receive remuneration. 

A leave of absence may be:

Compulsory: to hold a public office or perform trade union duties at provincial or higher level. It is mandatory to grant this leave, and workers are entitled to return to their position afterwards.

Voluntary: it is necessary to have worked for the company for at least one year. Workers are not entitled to retain their position, but have a right to be given preference when there is a vacancy. This leave can last between four months and five years. 

Leave to care for family members: this can be requested for a maximum period of three years, to care for each child. Workers will also be entitled to one year’s leave, extendible by collective bargaining agreement, to look after family members who are unable to look after themselves and who do are not in paid employment.

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Each year the Government sets the national minimum wage. This is the minimum received by workers in any agricultural, industrial or service job, regardless of their gender, age and whether they are in fixed-term or casual work. It is illegal to hire a worker for a lower wage.

With effect from 1 January 2019, the minimum wage for any job is EUR 30/day or EUR 900/month (14 payments), depending on whether the wage is set on a daily or monthly basis. The annual minimum wage therefore comes to EUR 12 600 for a full working day. If the number of working hours comes to less than a full day, the amount is reduced pro rata. The amounts indicated above are increased by the applicable allowances. 

These minimum wages are always overridden by collective bargaining or other agreements with a company. 

Wages comprise:

  • Basic salary 
  • Allowances based on the job in question: level of difficulty, toxicity, danger, shift work, night work, situation of the company, production or quality bonuses, profit sharing, etc., length of service, job based on one of Spain’s islands.
  • Additional payments: workers are entitled to at least two additional payments each year, the amount of which is determined by the collective bargaining agreement or by agreement between the employer and workers’ representative. These additional payments are usually made at Christmas and in the month of July The amount may be paid on a monthly pro-rata basis if so agreed.

Salaries are generally paid on a monthly basis and never for longer periods. The employer must provide the employee with a payslip clearly stating company information and information about the worker, salary and deductions made (including workers’ Social Security contributions and IRPF [income tax] withholding). 

The employer is responsible for making the contributions and therefore withholds the legally stipulated amount of income tax and Social Security contributions.

The amount withheld for income tax depends on the salary and personal and family circumstances (number of children and dependants that the worker has). Workers must inform their employer and provide them with the specific information needed to calculate the corresponding deduction. 

The social security contribution rate paid by workers is approximately 6.35 %.

Wage guarantee: An independent body called FOGASA guarantees workers’ pay and any compensation due for dismissal or termination of the employment relationship.

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Termination of employment

At the conclusion of the employment relationship, employers must give employees a company certificate and contribution documents (which workers will have to submit if they apply for unemployment benefits). They will also be given what is known as a ‘finiquito’, a document listing the outstanding amounts to be paid by the company. The party intending to terminate the employment contract (employer or worker), must provide advance notice to the other party as stipulated in the contract or collective agreement

The employment contract may be terminated for any of the following reasons: 

  1. agreement between the parties; 
  2. reasons set out in the contract;
  3. expiry of the time agreed or completion of the task or service; 
  4. resignation of the worker; 
  5. death, serious disability or retirement of the worker or the employer; 
  6. force majeure; 
  7. individual or collective dismissal (redundancy);
  8. by decision of the worker forced to resign due to being a victim of gender-based violence.
  9. at the request of the worker, for breach of contract by the employer.

In fixed-term contracts, except for temporary replacement and training contracts, workers will be entitled to compensation of 12 days’ pay per year of service, for fixed-term contracts concluded from January 2015 onwards.

If the employer decides to terminate the employment relationship and the worker does not agree, the worker may bring an action against the company. 

Conciliation decision: this is required before taking the complaint before the Juzgado de lo Social [employment tribunal]. The worker then has 20 working days (excluding Sundays and public holidays) from the time of dismissal to request a conciliation process before the competent labour mediation and arbitration office (UMAC). The conciliation decision may result in an agreement to reinstate the worker, pay compensation, or there may be no agreement. 

Claim: If no agreement is reached, the worker can file a claim before the employment tribunal, which will then rule on the matter.

Retirement: as a general rule, retirement age is set at 67, or 65 if the worker has paid into the system for 38 years and 6 months. These retirement ages and the number of years of contributions required have been implemented gradually since January 2013. Retirement age will remain at 65 for those to whom the previous legislation applies.

Notwithstanding the above, in some cases workers under age 65 may be offered early retirement. 

In some cases, partial retirement is also an option for people aged over 60.

Workers are entitled to a retirement pension if they have paid into the system for at least 15 years. The amount of the retirement pension varies depending on the number of years the worker has paid into the system, within certain limits. 

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The health system

In Spain, healthcare services are provided through public hospitals (belonging to the Social Security) and also through private hospitals. The quality of health care in Spain is relatively good.

Public healthcare. The Spanish government covers the health and pharmaceutical needs of all its citizens through its National Health System which is financed through Social Security contributions and managed by the Health Departments and Regional Health Services of the Autonomous Communities More than 90 % of the population use this system for their medical needs. 

All employed and self-employed persons must join the Social Security system and pay monthly Social Security contributions. All workers are given a Social Security passbook and number which they must then use to apply for their Health Card at their local health centre. This card entitles holders to obtain medical, pharmaceutical and hospital care.

The system allows citizens to choose their own GP. Most patients are able to get an appointment with their doctor within one or two days. To consult a specialist, patients must be referred by their GP, except in urgent cases. Unfortunately, as in most European countries, the waiting lists for a specialist visit or for elective or non-urgent surgery are usually long. 

In an emergency, the best thing to do is to go to the nearest accident and emergency department and, if necessary, you can call an ambulance by phoning 112.

Drugs are always prescribed by a doctor using an official prescription, and the patient pays part of the price. Medicines usually cost less than in other countries, due to price capping by the government.

Chemists open on a rotating basis to offer an out-of-hours service (night and public holidays) so that there is always an on-duty chemist open. You can find out which chemist is on duty by looking in the newspaper or in the window of any chemist shop, where a list will usually be on display. 

EU citizens who are not in the Social Security system may obtain health care during temporary trips to Spain, provided they have obtained the European Health Card in their own country.

Private healthcare. Approximately 15 % of the population has some form of private medical insurance to complement or as an alternative to the public health system. There are many private medical companies or firms in Spain that offer private insurance. These companies have their own clinics, consultation rooms and laboratories. Prices vary depending on the age and sex of the beneficiary. Typically, a man of 40 would pay approximately EUR 54 per month, while a woman of the same age would pay EUR 69.

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Income and taxation

Every worker receives a periodic remuneration in the form of a salary, normally paid monthly.

The employer is empowered to deduct tax and social security contributions that are legally due on workers’ monthly salary. Below are examples of gross and net pay, i.e. before and after the corresponding deductions have been made. 

The following amounts are average wages calculated for a worker under age 65 working a 40-hour week and without taking into account non-standard payments, bonuses or other additional payments. Social security deductions are 6.3 % and in this case the income tax withheld is 10 %. The amount of income tax withheld depends on the worker’s family situation and the duration and type of the work contract.

It is 25 % for workers who are not tax residents, except for farm workers for whom the deduction is 2 %. 


Monthly gross pay

Social Security

Income Tax

Monthly net pay

Waiting staff

EUR 953

EUR 60.51

EUR 95.30

EUR 797.19


EUR 886

EUR 56.26

EUR 88.60

EUR 741.14

Industrial engineer

EUR 2 130

EUR 139.08

EUR 213

EUR 1 777.92

Computer expert

EUR 1 216

EUR 77.26

EUR 121

EUR 1 017.74

Administrative worker

EUR 936

EUR 59.43

EUR 93.60

EUR 782.97

National minimum wage (SMI)

EUR 707.70  735.90


   A. Personal Income Tax [Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Físicas – IRPF]: charged on all income obtained from work, professional or business activities, investments and wealth. 

The amount of this tax is determined by the income level reached during the financial year, which coincides with the calendar year, and it is a progressive tax (the higher the income, the higher the percentage of tax, starting from a minimum that is exempt). The obligation to file a tax return starts from EUR 22 000 per year from a single income source (employer).

Income tax returns are filed in May and June of the year following the tax year in question and fines are imposed for failure to file or late filing. 

As a general rule, if you live in Spain for 183 or more days during a given tax year, you will have to declare all your income there, regardless of where you earned it. In determining one's ‘tax residence’, however, other considerations may be taken into account, such as close personal and economic ties, residence of family members, the place where most of the work is performed, etc. You are therefore advised to seek further advice if you are unsure.

If you have worked in Spain for fewer than 183 days and are then going to move to another EEA country, you can request a rebate of a proportion of the deductions made from your salary. To do so, you need to submit form 215 to the Tax Agency, a certificate of residency from the country to which you are moving and a certificate of the deductions made. The deadline for applying for a rebate is four years. 

   B. Corporate tax:this is very similar to personal income tax (IRPF) but it applies to legal persons. The current tax rate is 30 % for large businesses and 25 % for smaller businesses (SMEs), but there are also other special rates. 

   C.Inheritance and gift tax:levied on goods and services inherited or on gifts made inter vivos.


   A. Value added tax (VAT):levied on the supply of goods and services by employers and professionals and on imports. The tax rates are 4 %, 10 % and 21 % depending on the type of goods, and without prejudice to statutory exemptions. 

Property transfer tax and stamp duty: levied on particular transactions and legal and commercial documents, such as the purchase of real estate and taking out mortgages. 

There are also other EXCISE DUTIES, levied on the consumption of particular goods such as alcohol, tobacco and fuel. 

In addition to these national taxes or taxes devolved totally or partially to the Autonomous Communities, other LOCAL TAXES are levied by municipalities, such as property tax and vehicle road tax.

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Education systems

The education system in Spain is divided into the following levels: Pre-school, primary, compulsory secondary education, bachillerato [baccalaureate], vocational training and university education. 

Pre-school: age 0 to 6, divided into two 3-year stages. This is voluntary, with the second stage from 3 to 6 years being widely taken up. 

Primary education from age 6 to 12 is compulsory and free of charge in public (state) and state-subsidised private schools. 

Compulsory secondary education (Spanish acronym ESO): age 12 to 16. Taught in secondary schools. Pupils who successfully complete ESO leave school with a secondary education qualification. 

After obtaining the compulsory secondary education qualification, students who want to continue their studies may choose between mid-level vocational training or baccalaureate. 

The baccalaureate lasts two years, normally from age 16 to 18, and upon completion successful students are awarded a baccalaureate qualification. With this qualification, students may enter higher-level vocational training or commence university studies provided they have passed the university admission exam. 

A broad range of mid- or higher-level vocational training courses are available, organised on a modular basis and of variable duration, which prepare students to work in a variety of jobs. There are alternative ways, generally via exams, to gain admission to university education or higher level vocational courses. Successful completion of mid-level vocational training entitles students to the qualification of technician while higher-level vocational training entitles them to the qualification of advanced technician. 

University studies are divided into three cycles, traditionally known as Bachelor, Master and Doctoral. These correspond to the current three levels of university qualifications: Bachelor, Master and Doctorate (as in the European Higher Education Area). 

Universities are independent bodies able to design their own educational courses. They may be public or private. The qualifications awarded by private universities must be officially recognised by the Ministry of Education to be considered valid. 

Special training courses are also available, e.g. artistic courses (music, dance, visual arts and design and dramatic art) and foreign languages.

In some Autonomous Communities, such as Galicia, Catalonia or the Basque Country, education may be given in the language of the Autonomous Community.

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Cultural and social life

Social life in Spain is very important. Family and friends are vitally important to most Spaniards. Spaniards normally act and speak in an informal and spontaneous manner during social interactions and physical contact frequently accompanies greetings, i.e. kisses and embraces that may take those who are visiting Spain for the first time by surprise. Similarly, the Spanish habit of interrupting one another is not considered bad manners but part of spontaneous communication. 

The normal time for lunch is 13.30 to 15.30 and the normal time for dinner is 21.00 to 23.00, quite a lot later than is normal in the rest of Europe. It is common to go out to dinner with friends, especially at weekends.

Spanish nightlife is legendary and one of Spain’s greatest attractions. Bars and discos stay open throughout the night. The hospitality sector is one of the most dynamic sectors of the Spanish economy. 

Although significant changes have taken place in recent years, the family is still at the heart of personal relations and is very important.  Maintaining ties of friendship is also very important.

There is a wide range of popular festivals, some internationally renowned, which are typically linked to religious traditions.

Shopping is another very popular activity. Shops are usually open from 10.00 in the morning to 20.00 in the evening. Opening hours are usually longer in shopping centres. 

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