Spain Country Profile - Working Practices

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Working hours

The Spanish working day traditionally starts between 9am and 10am and ends in the middle of the evening to accommodate the famous ‘siesta’ period of two or three hours in the hottest phase of the day. However, some companies have recently begun to fall more in line with the rest of Europe and adjusted this break time to an hour with an earlier finish. Employment law in Spain states that normal working hours should not exceed 40 per week, with no more than 9 hours work per day. Overtime should not exceed 80 hours a year. 


Full-time employees in Spain are generally entitled to a minimum of 30 days of paid holiday each year in addition to public holidays. Time off may also be granted to accommodate a number of special circumstances including moving house, getting married, celebrating births and mourning bereavements. Sick leave, maternity leave and paternity leave are also offered.

Public holidays

In Spain, there are both national and regionally celebrated public holidays. National holiday dates are announced annually in a government bulletin. Depending on the region, the number of holidays may rise as high as 14 days. For more information on holidays in your region, check the Ministry of Employment and Social Security website.

Public holiday dates


New Year's Day: 1st January

Good Friday: 19th April

Labour Day: 1st May

Assumption of Mary: 15th August

Spanish National Day: 12th October

All Saints Day: 1st November

Constitution Day: 6th December

Christmas Day: 25th December

Visas and eligibility to work

Spanish immigration documentation can be lengthy and complex, with most only available through personal application at the local police station, immigration office or labour office, so always take advice from your local contacts. While freedom of movement within the European Union means citizens of many countries can enter Spain without a visa, some nationalities must still apply for such documentation. Full entry requirements are available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation website. Whether you are an EU or a non-EU citizen, you will need a long-term visa or residence certificate to remain in the country from more than 90 days. If you wish to work in Spain, you may also require an employer-sponsored work permit and an identity card. Citizenship can usually be obtained after ten years of continuous residency, although in some cases this time may be reduced.

Tax and social security

Foreign nationals living, working or owning property in Spain must have a ‘Número de Identificación Extranjeros’ or ‘NIE’. Issued as part of the residency certification, this foreign identity number will appear on all official documentation for your time in Spain. It serves as your tax identification number and enables you to receive your salary, and will also be required for many everyday activities such as opening a bank account. The tax year in Spain runs from January to December and you are considered resident for tax purposes if you remain in the country for over 183 days in a year. Spain operates a Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) system, so depending on your earnings income tax ranging from 24% to 43% is deducted directly off your wages, although a tax free personal allowance is also granted. There are some regional variations in tax rates and you may need to submit tax returns each year.

Pensions and benefits

Depending on their immigration status, foreign workers in Spain are usually required to make social security contributions at the same rate as Spanish citizens – approximately 6% of your income, although this is heavily supplemented by your employer. Compared to some countries, access to pensions and benefits for foreigners in Spain is quite generous; however some may be restricted according to the length of your stay in the country. For more information, consult the Ministry of Employment and Social Security website.


Spain has a number of laws in place to protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities to work in the country. Anti-discrimination measures are enshrined in recruitment law and both private and public sector employers are obliged to employ a certain number of disabled people and adapt their workplaces as required. Employers who take on those with disabilities may benefit from government funding, while disabled people who choose to work enjoy tax advantages not available to those on benefits.


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