Benefits entitled to employees under the leave policy in Spain protect employees in health, special life events, and childbirth situations. After the most recent paternity law reform passed in 2021, Spain has become one of the few countries to offer paternity leave benefits similar to maternity leave. That puts Spain at the forefront of most countries in the world regarding paternity leave, making the country an attractive place for employees to work. Employers looking to hire in Spain must provide employees the benefits entitled to them in the Spanish leave policy to stay compliant and competitive.
Annual leave in Spain
Under the leave policy in Spain, full-time employees are entitled to 22 days of paid annual leave. Employees may split the annual leave into separate periods, with at least one period being two weeks long. Employees must use up their statutory annual leave by the end of the year because the days typically do not roll over. The exception to that is special circumstances such as maternity leave. Employers may not pay their employees instead of giving them the leave they’re entitled to unless the employment contract is ending.
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Public holidays in Spain
There are generally nine public holidays in Spain when all employees are entitled to a day off. Different cities and regions have their own holidays where employees living there can also enjoy paid time off. For example, Easter Monday is not considered a national holiday, but regions like Catalonia, Balearic Islands, Navarre, Basque Country, and Valenciana grant workers the day off. Various localities may also designate a holiday to celebrate the saint that represents their city. For instance, St. Joseph’s Day is celebrated in Murcia, Madrid, and La Rioja in March.
2024 calendar of public holidays in Spain
Sick leave in Spain
Employees are entitled to paid sick leave that begins on the fourth day of their sickness. From the fourth day, employers must pay 60% of the employee’s regular wages for 16 days. Afterward, the amount increases to 75%. The amount for paid sick leave may be higher in cases with collective bargaining agreements, which may recognize payments up to the full wage.
To receive sick leave pay, employees must see a doctor through the State Health Services (Servicio Público de Salud) to certify their illness and need to take sick leave. Employees must declare they are temporarily incapacitated so they may continue to receive healthcare and their regular wages.
Employees are entitled to a maximum of two years of paid time off for work-related injuries or illnesses. Employers must pay employees 75% of their regular salary during the time off. Payments start after the second day of the leave. Additionally, employees are entitled to two days off to recover from an accident, illness, or surgery. Employees will receive four days of leave if traveling is required to receive the appropriate care.
Maternity leave in Spain
Female employees are entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave under the leave policy in Spain. Employees must take six weeks consecutively and immediately after childbirth or adoption. The other ten weeks can be taken before childbirth or within one year after the birth or adoption date. Employees may start their maternity leave up to four weeks before the due date or adoption date. The employee must give a notice 15 days in advance.
In the case of multiple births, employees can extend maternity leave for an additional 15 days for each child born after the first. Employees can also receive an extra 15 days if the child has disabilities. If the child was born premature or needed intensive care for more than seven days, employees may extend maternity leave for up to 13 weeks.
The Spanish government pays employees on maternity leave a maternity benefit instead of a salary. To be eligible for payments, employees must meet the following requirements:
- They are an employee for a company or a self-employed worker.
- They made social security contributions. The number of days will depend on the employee’s age. Employees aged 21 to 26 must have made social security contributions for at least 90 days in the past seven years or at least 360 days during their working life. Employees over 26 years old must have made social security contributions for at least 180 days in the past seven years or at least 360 days during their working life.
The amount of maternity benefit that the Spanish Social Security Administration pays depends on the worker’s status. An employee of a company receives their full wages during their leave. Self-employed workers will receive 100% of their average daily amount in the last six months.
Mothers may take additional time off on top of the 16 weeks of maternity leave. To do so, they can reduce their working hours and be paid according to the hours worked. This option is possible up until the child is 12 years old. Mothers are also entitled to a maximum of three years of unpaid leave to care for their child under the age of 12. Employers must offer the employee their previous position in the company if they return to work within one year. If the employee returns to work after one year, but before the three years, employers must offer a position with a similar role.
Mothers are entitled to a breastfeeding break in Spain after the 16 weeks of maternity leave is up. Employees can take one hour off (30 minutes for part-time employees) during the work day to breastfeed their child under nine months old. The one hour can be taken all at once or split into two 30-minute breaks. Employers must pay employees for the breastfeeding break. The employee may save those hours instead of using them for breastfeeding. In that case, the employee can take 15 consecutive days off after maternity leave ends.
Paternity leave in Spain
As of 2021, paternity leave has been extended to be the same length as maternity leave. That means employees are entitled to 16 weeks of paid time off for paternity leave. Just like maternity leave, employees must take six weeks consecutively and immediately after childbirth or the adoption date. Employees can take the other ten weeks at any time in one-week intervals until the child is one year old.
In case of multiple births, fathers may extend their paternity leave by one week for each additional child after the first. Employees can also take an additional week of leave for a child with disabilities. As with maternity leave benefits, employees may extend their paternity leave for a maximum of 13 weeks to care for a child that requires intensive care during the first week of birth.
The Spanish government pays employees their full paternity benefits as long as they’ve made the appropriate social security contributions (explained above in the maternity leave section).
Adoption leave in Spain
Employees are entitled to the same 16 weeks as biological parents for adopting or fostering a child under the age of six. The adoptive or foster parents are entitled to 10 weeks of adoption leave if the child is older than six.
Carer’s leave in Spain
Employees are entitled to paid time off to care for a child with a disability under 12 years old. The employer may reduce the work day by one-eighth and up to one-half of the employee’s normal working hours.
Employees are also entitled to a maximum of two years of unpaid leave to care for a family member affected by an accident, illness, or disability. Employees may use this unpaid leave to care for older family members who may not be able to take care of themselves.
Special leave in Spain
The leave policy in Spain gives employees the right to paid leave for special events. The number of days off depends on the occasion, which is as follows:
- Marriage: 15 calendar days
- Moving house: one day
- Accident, illness, or death of a family member: two calendar days (four days if travel is required)
- Jury duty or court appearances: as long as needed
- Perform trade union duties or workers’ representative activities: length established by collective agreement
Hire employees in Spain
When developing a leave policy in Spain, make sure it’s clear, equitable, and inclusive. Spain gives their employees a reasonably generous annual leave, and the recent change in paternity leave makes for attractive parental leave benefits when working in Spain. Your company must meet these minimum statutory entitlements to stay compliant and attract top talent.
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An employer of record like Skuad can help you with the following:
- Recruiting and hiring talent worldwide
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- Staying up to date with all labor law changes
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