Labour Law: Contracts
The area of labour law in Spain is, unexpectedly, highly legislated. There are various procedures which must be followed to have a contract correctly registered. Once the conditions of your contract have been agreed, it must be sent into the Public State Employment Service within 10 days of its date of commencement. A copy of these contracts, previously reviewed by your legal representatives, should also be sent to the Public State Employment Service. You must also be at least 16 to work, and even then, express permission from your legal guardians is required until the age of 18.
A probationary period may also be included, and must be part of the agreed conditions of the contract. This probationary period may last up to six months for qualified workers, and the contract can be terminated by either party within this time frame. No notice or compensation is required. The worker, nevertheless, preserves all rights and obligations of permanent personnel during this time.
Spanish labour contracts are based on three fundamental principles. Firstly, there is the necessary consent of both parties to enter into a specific and agreed contract. Secondly, there is the legal and legitimate object of that contract, and finally, the “causa”, or reason for each party’s consent.
Once these three aspects are agreed upon, a contract must necessarily include:
- Starting date, professional category, working hours and how these are spread out
- The identity of both parties, and address of workplace
- Agreed basic salary, potential bonuses, and pay schedule
- Period of required notice in the case of contract termination
- Number of holiday days and how these are worked out
Indefinite contracts in Spain are highly regarded and are necessarily rare, given the difficulties and high cost involved in terminating them. For this reason, people are generally happy to accept a lower starting salary in exchange for a permanent position.
In the case of temporary contracts, you may be offered an open-ended contract with the aim of providing a specific service. If the duration of this specifically temporary contract exceeds a year, the employer must provide you with two weeks notice of termination. If not, you are entitled to compensation.
You may also be offered a temporary contract to respond to certain market needs. This type of temporary contract may not last longer than six months within a continuous year.
A distinction is made between training contracts and work experience contracts. Training contracts will be offered to those without the necessary qualifications for a work experience contract. They must last at least six months, but cannot exceed two years.
In the case of work experience contract, the employee must have adequate academic qualifications, and must have left the academic programme within, at most, four months of applying for the position (this is extended to six years for disabled workers). This type of contract has the same time constraints as a training contract.
Changes are allowed to be made to the original contract. Alterations may be made to time table, shifts, remuneration procedures, appraisal of performance. If the changes negatively affect the employee, they have the right to terminate the contract. In this case, the employer must pay 20 days compensation for each year of employment.
In the case of changes in the initially stipulated duties, the employee’s wages remain, at worst, the same. If the new level of duties are of a lower category, the employer cannot change the agreed payment rate. If, however, the new level of duties are of a higher category, the employer must provide a wage in correspondence to this increased responsibility. In the case of these new duties being carried out for six months within a year, or eight months within two years, the employee is entitled to a promotion.
In the case of an employee being transferred to a new working location, which causes a change in residence, the company must compensate the costs of the move, and also provide 30 days notice.
When any of these changes occur, employees are recommended to contact their respective trade union representatives who will be able to advise and help with any outstanding issues.