Employment law in Spain – Employment Contracts

Employment law in Spain – Employment Contracts

Employment law in Spain consists of a comprehensive set of rules that regulate the relationship between employer and employee and are intended to offer significant protection to employees both in their employment relationship as well as in their working conditions. Although the 17 regions within Spain are autonomous communities, employment legislation is governed at a national level. The main piece of employment legislation in Spain is the Estatuto de Los Trabajadores https://www.boe.es/biblioteca_juridica/abrir_pdf.php?id=PUB-DT-2022-139.

This statute deals with many aspects of employment relations, both individually and collectively. This is supported by Royal Decrees, collective bargaining agreements, treaties, employment contracts, and other laws which deal with matters such as social security, health and safety, strikes, and trade unions, which together comprise the institutional framework of employment law in Spain.

Employment Contracts in Spain

In general, employment law in Spain allows for employment contracts to be either written or verbal, however, this does not prevent either party from requesting that the employment relationship be established in writing. In some cases, this freedom of form does not apply as certain types of employment contracts must be in writing, such as temporary employment contracts, part-time contracts, and those relating to special labor relations like lawyers and executives.

Regardless of whether employment contracts in Spain are verbal or in writing, if the duration of employment is greater than four weeks, the employer must provide the employee with certain information in writing within two months of their start date. This includes the following:

  • Identity of the parties to the employment
  • Date of commencement and for temporary contracts, an estimation of the duration
  • Job group or category
  • Work location
  • Base salary and any other compensation or benefits
  • Working hours and schedule
  • Total number of holidays
  • Notice period upon termination of employment contract
  • Applicable collective bargaining agreement

If there are any changes to the above conditions the employee must also be informed in writing.

Employment contracts in Spain are presumed to be for an indefinite time period and are, therefore, open-ended in term unless there is sufficient cause to justify a  fixed or definite term contract. Such causes are prescribed by law and must be real, otherwise, they will be considered fraudulent. Fixed or definite term contracts may only be entered into in certain situations, such as when an employee is temporarily covering for an absent employee, when the job or service is by its nature limited in duration or involves a special labor contract, for example in the case of artists or sportsmen.

What are the main differences between indefinite term and temporary employment contracts in Spain?

The open-ended (indefinite-term) contract in Spain include:

  • The ability to use this contract type for part time or full time work for any length of time
  • Clear guidelines for the probationary period (max. 6 months)

Fixed-term (temporary) contract in Spain:

  • Can only be used on clear temporary grounds such a production circumstances or replacement of an employee
  • Can only be implemented for a maximum of 6 months – 1 year, depending on circumstances
  • Limit the probationary period of 20% of the contract duration
  • Require minimal notice period required for employees to resign
  • Cannot be easily terminated before the end of the contract

For more information about Contracts of Employment in Spain visit: https://administracion.gob.es/pag_Home/en/Tu-espacio-europeo/derechos-obligaciones/ciudadanos/trabajo-jubilacion/condiciones-trabajo/contratos-salario.html

For details of the new employment law reforms in Spain under the Royal Decree-law 32/2021, of 28 December 2021, visit: https://www.cliffordchance.com/content/dam/cliffordchance/briefings/2022/01/202201-nrl-en.pdf

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