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Employment Legislation

In accordance with Spain’s employment laws, everybody that works within its territory should, without any exceptions, be hired or be a freelance worker. Hiring conditions vary depending on whether the person to be hired is an EU or non-EU resident. Hiring workers included in the former category follows the same procedure as any Spaniard, due to the free circulation of goods, persons, services and capitals guaranteed by the European Union. All that is required is an identification number for foreigners (represented by the initials “NIE” and issued by the Civil Government) in order to sign a standard contract. In the case of freelance workers, intra-Community invoices are usually used.

Spanish companies that are interested in hiring non-EU personnel should submit the necessary documentation to the Government Sub-Delegation. By means of the consulate of the worker’s country of origin, he will receive an answer after a 90-day period. It should be noted that the worker cannot do any kind of work during the time his work permit is being processed. Sometimes the workers themselves are the ones that decide to apply for a work permit. As in the previous case, they have to get in touch with the corresponding Government Sub-Delegation.

Social Security is the system by means of which Spain guarantees, in the case of those included in its field of action and any dependent relatives, suitable protection in regard to contingencies and situations covered by law. Its main regulations are included in the General Social Security Law, whose revised text was approved by Royal Legislative Decree 1/1994 (June 20th).

Social Security’s protective action covers a series of benefits and measures that are aimed at preventing, compensating for or overcoming cases of need derived from certain contingencies, such as health problems, temporary or permanent incapacity, retirement, family responsibilities and the total or partial loss of employment. In order to determine who is included in Social Security, we have to distinguish between contributive and non-contributive benefits. The former refer to those that require the prior payment of Social Security contributions, while the latter do not require any contributions and are financed by the State budget.

In relation to contributive benefits, the Social Security system covers all Spaniards as well as legal foreign residents in Spain, regardless of their sex, marital status or profession, that normally live and work in Spain and belong to one of the following categories:

- employees or similar
- freelance workers over eighteen
- partners working in cooperatives
- students
- public, civil and military functionaries

In relation to non-contributive benefits, the Social Security system covers all Spaniards residing in Spain, as well as Latin Americans, Portuguese, Brazilians, Andorrans and Filipinos residing in Spain. The situation of other nationals depends on the corresponding treaties, agreements or instruments that have been ratified. Spain has signed bilateral Social Security treaties with the following countries: Andorra, Germany, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Ecuador, United States, Finland, France, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Mexico, Morocco, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, United Kingdom, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The General Regime includes foreigners over eighteen currently living in Spain, regardless of their sex, marital status and profession, as long as they are hired employees, in one of the different economic activities, including those working at home and those doing temporary, seasonal or permanent work, even discontinuous work, regardless of the professional category and the amount of salary received.

The special nature of some professional activities has led, in addition to the General Regime, to the existence of a series of special regimes for the following: agricultural workers, seamen, domestic workers, coal miners and freelance workers. The last category covers all Spanish freelance workers living in Spain or foreign freelance workers living legally in Spain, over eighteen years old, that are working in this country. In this regard, freelance worker refers to a person that carries out, in a regular, personal and direct way, some kind of paid economic activity, without having a work contract (although he may use the paid services of other persons).

The Social Security System is managed by, among others, three public entities with their own legal status, attached to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs by means of the State Secretariat for Social Security: the National Social Security Institute (INSS), the General Social Security Treasury (TGSS) and the Navy Social Institute (ISM). The system is managed by means of a series of administrative entities, common services, regional entities and collaborating entities, in addition to the competent services of the autonomous regions that have had such responsibilities transferred to them (SERGAS or Galician Health Service in the case of Galicia). The Social Security System also receives voluntary and compulsory collaboration from Mutual Societies for Industrial Accidents and Professional Diseases and from businesses.

From a legal point of view, salary refers to the total amount of economic payments, in kind or money, received by workers corresponding to the professional services they have provided. Basic salary is what is paid to the worker per unit of time or job without taking any circumstances into account. The rest of the worker’s economic benefits are called supplementary payments or bonuses, of which there are five types:

- Personal: These depend on the personal conditions of each worker that were not taken into account when his basic salary was stipulated. For example, knowledge of a language or an academic qualificationo.

- Workplace: These depend on the kind of risks involved in the work carried out by the employee, such as toxicity, dangerousness or night work, among others.

- Quality or quantity of work: These are derived from a qualitative or quantitative improvement in the work (overtime, activity bonuses, etc).

- Periodicity of more than one month: These are payments with a periodicity of more than 30 days, such as extra wages or company dividends, among others.

- In kind: Wages that the employee receives in the form of non-monetary goods (maintenance, accommodation…).

In addition to these supplementary payments, the worker may receive economic compensation for work-related expenses such as, for example, estimated expenses for carrying out his work, means of transport, etc.

Basic regulation, in addition to the Constitution, is contained in the Workers’ Statute (ET), which was approved on March 10th, 1980, and regulates individual work contracts, collective bargaining and workers’ representation in companies. In 1994, the Spanish Government undertook a profound reform of employment regulation, which resulted in greater employment flexibility, favouring the mobility of work and incorporating new kinds of contracts. There are also numerous laws and decrees that regulate special work contracts: work experience, apprenticeship, high management, etc.

There are different types of contract, regardless of their duration. In Galicia, the following temporary work contracts are permitted:

- Contracts for carrying out a certain job or service: They last until the corresponding job or service is completed.

- Temporary contracts due to production circumstances: These arise due to temporary market conditions, such as the accumulation of work or an excess of orders. They have a maximum duration of six months within a twelve-month period.

- Substitution contracts: These are used to replace a company’s workers (entitled to having their job reserved) during a certain period of time, or to temporarily cover a job during a selection or promotion process to fill it permanently.

- Contracts to launch a new activity: Their duration oscillates between a minimum of six months and a maximum of three years.

- Contracts to promote employment: These contracts originated in 1984, when they were created to generate more jobs. Nowadays, the job promotion regime is established annually, determining what type of workers may be hired therein.

There are also part-time contracts, which is the name given to all those in which the employee works during a number of hours per day, per week, per month or per year, without reaching the quantity considered normal for the corresponding activity during such periods of time. In these cases, the wages and Social Security contributions are proportional to the number of working hours. In cases where part-time contracts are legally permitted, such contracts may be permanent or temporary.

Law 10/1994 (May 19th), concerning Urgent Measures to Promote Employment, established a new regime for training contracts, which are aimed at combining work and training. The new regulation of these contracts involved reforming the old work-experience contracts and replacing the old training contract with the aprenticeship contract.

Work-experience contracts enable companies to employ young graduates interested in acquiring practical experience, in their area of knowledge, within the company. They can last for a minimum of six months and maximum of two years.

By means of apprenticeship contracts, young people aged between sixteen and twenty-five and the disabled, who do not have the necessary qualifications for formalising a work-experience contract, can be employed in order to provide them with theoretical and practical training, while doing paid work. Such contracts can last for a minimum of six months and a maximum of three years, unless the corresponding sector’s collective agreements establish different durations.

Spain’s employment legislation gives special treatment to the hiring of minors for public entertainments. Hiring a minor requires sending authorisation from his parents or legal representatives to an inspector, who evaluates the working conditions in accordance with the role being offered to the minor, his wages, his health and other factors, such as hygiene, safety, atmosphere, breaks, lack of school attendance, parental supervision during the filming period, etc. The application should be submitted at least one week in advance. The following table shows the amount of working hours permitted, depending on the minor’s age.

Age of MinorHours Permitted
Less than six months Two hours on set.
Includes twenty minutes on camera *
From six months to two years Four hours on set.
Includes two hours on camera.
From two to six years Six hours on set.
Includes three hours on camera.
From six to nine years Eight hours on set.
Includes four hours on camera.
From nine to sixteen years Nine hours on set.
Includes five hours on camera.
Non-school days: seven hours on camera.
DSixteen and seventeen years Ten hours on set.
Includes six hours on camera.
Non-school days: eight hours on camera.
* A baby cannot be exposed to light greater than 100 foot-candles for more than thirty seconds at a time.

Galicia likewise offers a great range of job incentives, from both the regional government (Xunta de Galicia) and the central government. Such incentives may consist in subsidising permanent hiring or, in some cases, temporary hiring.

The basic regulation of these incentives is contained in Decree 52/1994 (March 4th), which is supplemented in turn by different orders. There is also a great variety of subsidies and incentives for hiring disabled workers, as well as for creating cooperatives and public limited companies and for freelance workers setting up their own business.

In relation to unemployment benefit and pensions, anybody that has contributed to the Social Security’s general regime is entitled to receive unemployment benefit and a retirement pension. The duration of the unemployment benefit is calculated according to the amount of contributions paid during previous employment. In the case of pensions, a worker is entitled to one after having worked for a minimum of fifteen years.

During filming, production companies with workers should satisfy a series of compulsory safety and hygiene regulations. Workers’ mutual societies are responsible for ensuring the fulfilment of such regulations. Law 31/1995 (November 8th), concerning the Prevention of Industrial Risks, determines the basic body of guarantees and responsibilities required to establish an appropriate level of protection for the workers’ health, as regards the risks derived from their working conditions, in the framework of a coherent, coordinated and efficient policy.