Home Working in Spain Labor Law A guide to Spain’s labor laws
Last update on December 31, 2020

Learn about Spanish labor laws, including the maximum number of working hours per week and the types of leave you are entitled to while working in Spain.

Standard working hours in Spain

Spanish law regulates working time in Spain. This includes maximum working hours, rest time, annual holidays, Spanish public holidays, leave, and overtime. The working day is subject to agreement between workers’ and employers’ organizations or in contracts.

Some key rules are as follows:

  • Full-time workers in Spain must average a maximum of 40 hours per week of work, calculated on an annual basis.
  • Workers can’t work for more than nine hours a day unless an agreement is in force
  • Employees under 18 can only work for eight hours a day across employers, including training
  • Working hours can be distributed unevenly if a collective agreement is in place

Employment contracts in Spain

Spanish employment contracts can be in writing or verbal, though the latter is very unusual. Contracts go to the Public State Employment Service within 10 days of coming into force.

The minimum working age in Spain is 16. Permission from parents or guardians is necessary up to 18 years of age unless the person has legal emancipation.

When you start a job, you may work a probationary period of up to two or six months. This depends on your job. Contracts in Spain must include:

  • Name of both parties, address of the company
  • Start date, job title, details of working hours
  • Basic salary and supplements, and the salary payment schedule
  • Number of days holiday and, where applicable, how holiday dates are determined
  • Notice period
  • Specifics about the job role

Different types of contracts

Indefinite contracts don’t establish a time limit. They may be verbal or in writing for full or part-time agreements.

Temporary contracts are possible in the following circumstances:

  • Contract for a specific service: If this exceeds on year, 15 days notice must be given by the employer
  • Contract for production contingencies: This contract may not run for more than 6 months within a 12 month period
  • Temporary replacement contract: This must specify the worker replaced and the reason for the replacement

Training contracts

These are possible workers over 16 and under 21 who lack the qualifications necessary to draw up a work experience contract.

Some groups may be employed under the terms of a training agreement even though they are over the age limit. This contract must run for at least six months but cannot be longer than two years.

Work experience contracts

The following requirements apply in order to enter into this contract:

  • The worker must possess university or vocational training qualifications, or equivalent
  • The studies must have been validated in Spain within the last four years (six for workers with a disability)

Work experience contracts must run for at least six months but cannot last for longer than two years.

Home-work and part-time contracts

The duration of these contracts may be indefinite or fixed.

In both cases, they must always be in writing, specifying the place where the services occur and the duration of the working day.

Changes in contracts

Employers must comply with the requirements and procedures laid down in labor legislation when making changes to contracts.

The worker has the right to terminate their contract if changes are to their detriment. In such a case, they get 20 days’ compensation for each year (maximum of nine monthly payments).

Change of duties

A worker may perform duties of higher or lower categories than those in the contract.

If the duties are of a lower category, the worker must retain the wage for the job carried out previously. However, if they are of a higher category, the worker must receive the wage corresponding to that category.

If duties in a higher category occur for periods in excess of six months in a year or eight months in two years, the worker can ask for a promotion.

Geographic mobility

If a worker transfers to another workplace in a different location involving a change of residence, or when there is a move lasting for more than 12 months in a three-year period, the company must give the worker 30 days’ notice of the move and must provide financial compensation for the costs incurred.

The worker has the right to terminate their contract if they do not consent to the move. They get 20 days’ compensation for each year (maximum of 12 monthly payments).

Rest time

At least 12 hours must elapse between the end of one working day and the start of the next. When the duration of the continuous working day exceeds six hours, a rest period of at least 15 minutes is necessary.

Workers receive a minimum weekly rest time of one and a half uninterrupted days. This generally includes Saturday afternoon or, where applicable, Monday morning, and the whole of Sunday.

In the case of workers under 18 years of age, the rest period is a minimum of thirty minutes. This is mandatory when the duration of the continuous working day exceeds four and a half hours.  The duration of the weekly rest time for people under 18 is a minimum of two consecutive days.

Night work and shift work

All aspects of this work pattern are subject to time restrictions. Under-18s may not carry out night work (or activities that are unhealthy, dangerous, or distressing).

Overtime

Overtime is the work hours over and above the maximum number of normal working hours.

Workers may work a maximum of 80 hours overtime per year. This does not include overtime compensated with rest time, or work carried out to prevent or repair extraordinary and urgent damage. The latter is obligatory for the worker and must be paid as overtime.

Overtime at night is illegal, except in duly-specified and expressly authorized special activities. It is also illegal for people under 18 years of age.

Overtime may be remunerated or compensated for with equivalent paid rest time.

If the worker works for fewer hours per year than the general company working hours, the restriction on hours reduces proportionally.

Reduction of the working day for family reasons

Workers can claim a reduction of their working time, with a proportional reduction in wages, if they are directly responsible for a child under six years of age, people with disabilities, or family members in certain specific circumstances.

Leave

Holidays may be agreed upon individually or collectively and may not be less than 30 days. Employers cannot replace holidays with financial compensation. When workers with casual or temporary contracts cannot take holidays because they don’t work for the company during holiday periods, they receive wages pro-rata.

The holiday schedule is fixed in each company. Workers are aware of the relevant holiday dates at least two months before they start. If there is disagreement, they may present a claim to the employment tribunal.

Paid leave is subject to notice and justification to the company. Workers may take time off for the following:

  • Birth of a child in Spain or a death, accident, or serious illness or hospitalization of relations, two days or four if travel is necessary.
  • Moving in Spain, one day.
  • Women can claim one hour off work each day for breastfeeding a child under nine months, or half an hour at the start or end of the day. This time off is available for either the mother or father if they both work.
  • Meeting public and private obligations (e.g., jury service, court appearances), as long as necessary.
  • Performing trade union or workers’ representative activities: depends on the law or collective agreement.
  • In every case, the worker must inform the employer in advance and justify the leave.
  • The government determines Spain’s public holidays on an annual basis. There are 14 per year, two of which are local. Christmas Day in Spain, New Year’s Day, 1 May (Labor Day), and 12 October (Spanish National Day) are national public holidays. Any public holidays on a Sunday transfer to the Monday right after.

Unpaid leave

This refers to time off work without pay that must be requested by the worker and may be granted at the discretion of the employer but must always be set in an individual or collective agreement. Periods of unpaid leave are 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 such cases, the worker earns at least 60% income. The employer normally pays the worker this temporary sick pay, and then receives by the Social Security department. The maximum period of such leave is 18 months, after which the situation must be reviewed.

Temporary invalidity

A worker who cannot work and need medical assistance for any of the following reasons: common illness or work-related illness, accident (whether work-related or not) or periods of observation for occupational diseases is being protected by law and can apply for a temporary invalidity.

Maternity and paternity leave in Spain

Maternity leave in Spain for a woman lasts 16 uninterrupted weeks, which may be extended by two weeks for multiple births for each child from the second child onward. This period may be taken at the discretion of the person concerned, provided that six weeks fall immediately subsequent to the birth.

Irrespective of this obligatory post-birth time off for the mother, if both parents work, the mother may opt for the father to take a specific uninterrupted portion of the leave subsequent to the birth.

Extended leave of absence

Extended leave of absence means a situation where the employment contract is suspended at the employee’s request and may be either compulsory or voluntary. If it’s the latter, at least one year’s service in the company is necessary. The right to keep the job is not recognized, but priority is given when there is a vacancy. The duration is between two and five years.

Extended leave of absence to care for members of the family

The maximum duration of three years to care for each child. Employees can also claim leave of absence of one year, which can extend by mutual 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 work.