Spain: A European View on Employment Law

11 July 2016

Miguel Pastur

In Spain employment law is very protective of employees. Employment courts apply the regulation with a clear preference for employees; this is the case despite legislative changes, which have tried to provide better conditions for companies to carry out business in Spain.

Background

Spain is a civil law country and employment relationships are regulated by the Statute of Workers (other relevant legislation includes health and safety and infractions regulations for example). However, there are other sources of regulation equally important such as the Collective Bargaining Agreements (“CBAs”). Those are negotiated by the representatives of the workers and the employer at sector/company level. These CBAs can provide for better entitlements on certain working conditions (i.e. annual leave, holidays).

In Spain, there is a Public Social Security System to which employers and employees have to contribute. This system provides coverage in certain situations, e.g. public healthcare, unemployment, retirement, disability, maternity/paternity, etc.

Did you know?
  • As per Spanish employment law, employees in certain situations are protected against termination. For example, in the case of employees enjoying working time reduction due to child care, the protection lasts until the child is 12 years old. 
  • There is a declining trend in the number of CBAs. In 2015 there were 1,120 CBAs, down from 1,842 recorded in 2014. 
  • As the Spanish economy improved during the last months, the number of collective restructuring plans went down from 13,497 in 2014 to 7,336 in 2015.
Restructuring programmes: key issues
  • Employee representatives have extensive rights to be informed or consulted. (i.e. collective redundancies require consultation with workers representatives or employees’).
  • In the event of redundancy processes, the employer must fulfil strict formal and documentary obligations and provide internal information such as annual accounts. Breach of said formal obligations can derail the restructuring altogether.
  • The employees’ selection in case of collective termination must be made by applying objective criteria. These criteria must be thoroughly explained and documented during the process.
General employment
  • In Spain, employment at will is not allowed. Any termination must be grounded in one of the causes provided for in the Statute of Workers.
  • Strict formalities apply where the employer proceeds with terminating an employee (i.e. dismissal letter, notice, salary liquidation, etc.). Holiday entitlement does not depend on the employee’s seniority; employees are entitled to at least 30 calendar days of holiday per year.



This is part of the Bird & Bird: A European view on Employment Law series.

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