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Last updated on: May 2nd, 2024

Labor Requirements

The Labor Law in Spain is mainly regulated by the Workers Statute (last amended in 2024) which governs the terms and conditions of employment such as working hours, holidays, rest periods, wages, overtime, leave and termination of employment, etc.  However, Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) also govern various aspects of labor relations. 

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

The standard working hours of an employee shall not exceed 9 hours per day (inclusive of overtime) and 40 hours per week (exclusive overtime).

The duration of the working day shall be that agreed in the collective agreements or employment contracts.

Flexible Working Hours – Flexible working hours in excess of the 9 hours of effective work per day limit can be granted under a CBA or between the employer and the employee.   

In the absence of an agreement or collective bargaining agreement (CBA), it is stipulated that the employer may only alter 10% of the irregular working hours annually, with the remaining schedule being fixed. Article 34 of the Workers’ Statute.

Recording Requirement – The employer shall, to calculate overtime, record the working hours of each employee on a day-to-day basis and the total amount owed to the employee must be included in the payment period, and the employer must provide the employee with a copy of the summary of the payment alongside the corresponding receipt.

This record must include the specific start and end times of each employee’s working day, without prejudice to any flexible hours that may be provided. 

The working hours of part-time employees will be recorded daily and totaled monthly, giving the employee a copy, along with the receipt of wages, of the summary of all the hours worked each month, both ordinary and complementary work.

The employer must keep the monthly summaries of the working hours records for a minimum of 4 years. Art 12, 34, and 35, of the Workers’ Statute.

Shift Work – Shift work is considered to be any form of work according to which employees successively occupy the same jobs, according to a certain rhythm, continuous or discontinuous, implying the employees the need to provide their services at different times in a given period of days or weeks. 

In companies with continuous production processes 24 hours a day, in the organization of shift work, the rotation of the shifts will be taken into account, and no employees are working at night for more than 2 consecutive weeks, except for voluntary assignments.

Companies that, due to the nature of their activity, carry out shift work, including Sundays and holidays, may do so either by teams of employees who carry out their activity for full weeks, or by hiring personnel to complete the necessary equipment for one or more more days a week.

When an employee transitions to a different shift and doesn’t have enough time to rest between shifts, their rest period for that day might be shortened, down to a minimum of seven hours. However, any shortfall in rest time will be made up for during the following days, ensuring they receive the full 12 hours of rest typically required.

Shift employees must always receive appropriate health and safety protection adapted to the nature of their work. Art 36, of the Workers’ Statute. 


Every hour of work carried out over the maximum duration (i.e. 40 hours per week) of the ordinary day will be considered overtime.


Employees are not legally required to work overtime unless this is stipulated in a collective agreement or individual employment contract. Overtime hours and pay are usually governed by the applicable CBA, which will often provide for more generous entitlements. The number of overtime hours may not exceed 80 per year.


Employees who work fewer hours than the standard 40-hour week due to their contract terms or duration should calculate their maximum yearly overtime hours based on the same proportion as their reduced workdays.


Senior employees (ie, employees who report to the board of directors and have managerial powers) can and often waive their right to overtime pay or compensatory time off.


Pay – An employer has the right to choose between an overtime premium pay or compensation with equal time off. The employer is free to choose between offering overtime pay or time off in lieu.


Overtime must be paid by the hour, applying a premium over the standard hourly rate or as provided under a collective bargaining agreement. 


In the absence of an agreement in this regard, it will be understood that the overtime hours performed must be compensated by rest within 4 months of their completion. The compensatory rest is equivalent to the number of hours worked as overtime. The additional hours worked to prevent or repair accidents and other extraordinary and urgent damages will not be taken into account when calculating the maximum number of authorized overtime hours, irrespective of whether they have been compensated as overtime. Art 35, of the Workers’ Statute.

Night Work

Any work performed between 10 pm and 6 am is considered as night work. A night employee shall be considered to be one who normally performs a part of the day’s work during the night period for not less than 3 hours, as well as one who is expected to be able to perform work at least one-third of their total annual working hours.


Employees under 18 years of age shall not perform work at night.


An employee working at night shall not work more than 8 hours per day on average in a reference period of 15 days. Overtime cannot be performed within the night period, except in the cases of special days extended by regulation or when necessary to prevent and repair accidents.


A free health assessment must be provided to employees before they begin working a night shift and at regular intervals thereafter. Night employees who experience health problems must be allowed to transfer to a daytime job.

Pay An employee who works at night is entitled to receive premium pay as per employer and employee agreement via collective bargaining agreement. They would not be entitled to premium pay if they already receive extra pay in their regular salary or if they get compensated with time off for working at night. Art 36, of the Workers’ Statute. 


Employees required to work more than 6 uninterrupted hours are entitled to a minimum 15 ­minutes rest break. This rest period will be considered an effective working time when so established by a collective agreement or employment contract.


Employees under 18 years of age may work a maximum of 8 hours per day and must be given 30 ­minute breaks if their working day exceeds 4 1/2 continuous hours. Art 34, of the Workers’ Statute.


Daily Rest – An employee shall be entitled to 12 hours of rest between the end of a day and the beginning of the next day. Art 34, of the Workers’ Statute.


Weekly Rest – Employees are entitled to an uninterrupted 1.5 days of minimum weekly rest. The weekly rest can be accumulated over a maximum period of 2 weeks (i.e period up to 14 days). Weekly rest as a general rule consists of Saturday afternoon or, where appropriate, Monday morning and the full day Sunday. The duration of the weekly rest for minors under  18 years of age will be at least 2 uninterrupted days. Art 37, of the Workers’ Statute.

Work On Rest Days

In the event that an employee is unable to take their scheduled holiday or weekly rest day due to exceptional circumstances or logistical constraints, they are entitled to additional compensation. This compensation includes payment for the hours worked during the missed holiday or rest period, with an increase of at least 75% over their regular salary for the week, excluding cases where compensatory rest is provided. Art 37, of the Workers’ Statute, Art 47 Royal Decree 2001/1983, of July 28, on the regulation of working hours, special days, and breaks.

Public Holidays

Employees are entitled to 14 public holidays per year. 8 holidays are observed countrywide:

  • New Years: January 1st. Friday
  • Good Friday:  April 2. Friday
  • Labor Festival:  May 1. Saturday
  • National Holiday of Spain:  October 12. Tuesday
  • All Saints:  November 1. Monday
  • Constitution Day:  December 6, Monday
  • Immaculate Conception:  December 8. Wednesday
  • Christmas Day:  Saturday, December 25

Besides national holidays, each region (Andalucía, Aragon, Asturias, the Balearic Islands, the Basque Country, the Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castile and Leon, Castilla la Mancha, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, Madrid, Murcia, Navarre, La Rioja, and the Valencian Community) decides on 3 additional holidays of its own and each local council on 2.


Working holidays shall be paid at regular rate and are not recoverable, and may not exceed 14 a year, of which 2 shall be local working holidays. In case when national holidays occur on Sunday or any other weekday, the Government can move it to Monday.


PayAny employee who works on a holiday shall be entitled to pay at a regular rate as there is no statutory provision for premium pay for work on a holiday.


If an employee is unable to take their scheduled holiday or weekly rest day due to exceptional circumstances or logistical constraints, they are entitled to additional compensation. This compensation includes payment for the hours worked during the missed holiday or rest period, with an increase of at least 75% over their regular salary for the week, excluding cases where compensatory rest is provided. Art 37, of the Workers’ Statute. Royal Decree, 2001/1983 of July 28.

Annual Leave

Duration of Annual Leave – Employees are entitled to a minimum of 30 calendar days of annual leave paid at their regular rate. The rate of pay can be increased by collective agreements or by individual employment contracts. 

Leave entitlement is reduced proportionally for periods of employment less than a year.

Timing of Annual Leave – When employees can take their annual leave entitlement is a matter of agreement between the employer and the employee. In case of disagreement between the parties, the dates will be decided by local labor authorities.

Carryforward of Unused Annual Leave – Unused leave does not generally carry forward to the next year, although there are exceptions to this rule (e.g., pregnancy or maternity leave).

Annual Leave Coinciding with Other Leaves – If an employee’s holiday period coincides with certain temporary disabilities including pregnancy, childbirth, or breast­feeding the employee is entitled to take a paid vacation at another time within the same year. If the temporary disability has another cause, the employees may take a paid vacation at another time within 18 months.

If an employee’s holiday period coincides with certain temporary disabilities—including pregnancy, childbirth, or breast ­feeding—the employee is entitled to take a paid vacation at another time within the same year. If the temporary disability has another cause, the employee may take a paid vacation at another time within 18 months. Art 38, of the Workers’ Statute.

Special Leave

Sick Leave

Duration of Sick Leave –  An employee is entitled to sick leave as follows: 

      • days 1 to 3 – there is no statutory requirement for either the employer or the state to pay the employee;
      • days 4 to 20 – the employee is entitled to sick pay from the employer equal to 60% of their reference salary (capped). This amount cannot be recovered from the state, and
      • from day 21 onwards – the employee is entitled to sick pay from the employer equal to 75% of their reference salary (capped). This amount can be recovered from the state.

Extended Illness – In cases of extended illness, employees can receive benefits for up to 365 days, with a possible extension of an additional 180 days.


Eligibility Criteria – To qualify, the employee must have paid 180 days’ worth of social security contributions in the 5 years prior, except for cases where the incapacity is caused by a work-related illness or accident that does not require a prior contribution period. General Social Security Act, 2015, Art. 42, 216.


Maternity Leave

Duration of Maternity Leave – Employees are entitled to a maximum of 16 weeks maternity leave, comprising:

      • 6 compulsory weeks, which must be taken by the mother following birth; and
      • 10 flexible weeks, which can be used either before or after childbirth or can be transferred to the working father, whether or not they are married to the mother, subject to being registered with the State Social Security System.

This time off can be taken concurrently or successively.


Transfer of leave– The 10 weeks can be transferred to the father if the mother wants it. If the biological mother dies, whether working or not, the second parent will have the right to enjoy the 16 weeks of leave that corresponds to the first parent.


Additional leaves- The 16 weeks’ leave can be extended in the following circumstances:

        • in the case of multiple births- 2 weeks’ additional leave per child is offered;
        • where the child is born with a disability- 2 weeks’ additional leave is offered;
        • in the case of premature birth- 13 weeks’ additional leave is offered; and
        • in the case of the hospitalization of the child- 13 weeks’ additional leave is offered.

The employment contract, applicable CBA, or company policy can offer more generous entitlements.


Pay Benefits – Although all employed mothers are entitled to maternity leave, they will be entitled to Social Security benefits only if they satisfy the Social Security eligibility requirements. Once the mother meets these requirements, she is entitled to benefits equal to 100% of their average monthly salary, capped at €3,751.20 for the duration of the leave. If they do not satisfy the eligibility requirements, the mother will be entitled to a flat rate benefit of €532.51 per month, equal to €17.75 per day, for up to 42 days.


Breastfeeding Break – During the nine months following the birth, the employee is entitled to work 1 hour less per day without any salary reduction. The hour can be taken in two separate 30-minute breaks. Alternatively, the employee can elect to shorten the working day by 30 minutes or accumulate the time as paid working days (15 days approximately). This right is transferable to the working father.


These rights are gender-neutral and apply to same-sex couples, adoptions or family placements, and guardianships for adoption or fostering. Royal Legislative Decree 2/2015 approving the consolidated text of the Workers’ Statute, Art. 48(4) (Spanish); Royal Legislative Decree 1/1995, art. 56.


Paternity Leave

Duration of Leave – Fathers of a newborn are entitled to 16 weeks of paid paternity leave. There is a mandatory period of 4 uninterrupted weeks of paternity leave immediately after childbirth for both mother and father. After that, the father can take the other 8 weeks continuously or uninterruptedly, by week and on full, or partial time arrangement during the child’s first year. The first six weeks after birth, foster care or adoption will be mandatory for fathers. The remaining weeks are a right of the other parent other than the biological one and not an obligation, so they can be waived.

Eligibility for taking social security benefits- The minimum contribution period depends on age:

      • Less than 21 years old: no minimum period is required;
      • Between 21 and 26 years: 90 days within the previous 7 years or 180 days throughout their working life.
      • They have reached the age of 26: 180 days within the previous 7 years or 360 days throughout their working life.

Pay Benefits – The 16 weeks are 100% paid by the state and non-transferable, which means that if one parent decides not to take the time off, the other parent cannot take advantage of it. Art 48(7) of the Workers’ Statute.


Parental Leave

Employees will be entitled to take parental leave to care for children or minors fostered for more than one year until the minor reaches 8 years of age.  The leaves can be taken continuously or intermittently, on either a full-time or part-time basis, as per the stipulations outlined in the relevant regulations, until the child reaches the age of 8. 

These leaves are non-transferable and can only be utilized by the individual employee. It is the responsibility of the employee to specify the commencement and end dates of the leave and must notify the employer at least 10 days in advance, or as specified in the collective agreements, unless in cases of force majeure.

Note: Employers have until August 2, 2024, to implement this new parental leave as part of their leave policy.

Reduction of Working Hours for Family Reasons – Employees in situations of birth, adoption, or foster care of a child are entitled to 1 hour of absence from work to care for their child until the child is 9 months old. This duration can be extended for multiple births or fostering. It’s an individual right that cannot be transferred to another caregiver, although companies may limit simultaneous exercise if two employees request it.

For instances like premature birth or post-childbirth hospitalization, employees can take either 1 hour of absence or reduce their working day by a maximum of 2 hours, with a proportional salary decrease.

Employees also have the right to reduce their daily working hours by at least one-eighth and up to half, with a proportional decrease in salary, in various caregiving circumstances such as caring for a child under 12, a disabled family member, or a minor with a serious illness requiring hospitalization.

The determination of working hours typically falls within the regular workday, with notification to the employer required fifteen days in advance. Disputes regarding scheduling are resolved through social jurisdiction, and salary calculation for compensation purposes is based on the pre-reduction salary. Art 48 bis of the Workers’ Statute.


Adoption Leave

Parents who adopt or act as foster parents are entitled to up to 16 weeks of leave when:

          • the child is aged under six, or
          • the child is aged over six but suffers from a physical or mental disability.

The first six weeks after birth, foster care or adoption will be mandatory. The remaining ten weeks may be enjoyed in weekly periods, accumulated or interrupted, within the twelve months following the judicial resolution by which the adoption is constituted or the administrative decision of custody for the purposes of adoption or foster care.


The employee is entitled to two extra weeks per child in the event of multiple adoptions and fostering. If both parents work, they can share this leave, which can be taken either concurrently or successively. If taken concurrently, the total length of absence cannot exceed the maximum permitted duration.


In the event of disability of the son or daughter at birth, adoption, in custody for adoption, or foster care, the employee will have an additional duration of two weeks, one for each of the parents. The same extension will proceed in the case of birth, adoption, custody for adoption, or multiple foster care for each subsequent son or daughter.


Pay – If the employee satisfies the social security eligibility requirements, they will be entitled to social security benefits equal to 100% of their average monthly salary, capped at €3,751.20. If the employee does not satisfy the eligibility requirements, they will be entitled to a flat-rate benefit of €532.51 per month, equal to €17.75 per day, for up to 42 days. Art 46, of the Workers’ Statute.

Training Leave

Employees with at least one year of seniority are entitled to 20 hours per year of training leave, linked to the activity of the company. Art 46, of the Workers’ Statute.

Unpaid Childcare Leaves

Both parents have an individual right to take unpaid parental leave to care for a child for up to:

      • 3  years following childbirth; or  
      • 3 years from the date on which the child is placed for adoption or permanent fostering.  

    Leave can be taken in one continuous period or intermittently over several shorter periods totaling no more than three years. Leaves will be counted for seniority, and employees will get job reservations (up to 18 months for large families) and priority for re-employment. Union officials can also take leave from their positions. Art 46, of the Workers’ Statutes.


    Additional Paid Leave
      • 15 calendar days in case of marriage of employees. 
      • 15 calendar days of paid leave in case of de facto partner (civil unions).
      • Paid leave for time required to comply with a public obligation (e.g., voting or jury duties);
      • 5 working days (compared to the 2 days available under former provisions) due to serious accident, illness, hospitalization, or outpatient surgery that requires recovery at home suffered by persons who live with the employee and civil partners, and relatives of the civil partner.
      • 4 working days for the right to be absent from work due to force majeure when necessary for urgent and unforeseeable family reasons, in the event of illness or accident that makes their immediate presence indispensable.
      • 2 working days Leave in case of death of a spouse, unmarried partner, or relatives of either, up to the 2nd degree (up to 4 days if traveling is required)
      • 1 day moving to a new residence, and
      • The time necessary to execute union duties and worker representation. 

    Art 46, of the Workers’ Statute.


    Handicapped Family Member Leave

    The Statute of Workers also guarantees employees unpaid leave of up to 2 years to take care of a close family member (parent, child, sibling, grandparent or grandchild, aunt or uncle, first cousin or niece or nephew) in the event the family member is handicapped or is deemed by the health authorities to be unable to execute the most basic activities of daily living without help from a third person. Art 46, of the Workers’ Statute.


    Voluntary Unpaid Leave

    Employees with at least one year of seniority in the company have the right to be recognized as having the possibility of taking a voluntary leave of absence for a period of no less than four months and no more than five years. This right may only be exercised again by the same worker if four years have elapsed since the end of the previous voluntary leave.  Time taken for unpaid voluntary leave is not considered in the calculation of seniority. Art 46, of the Workers’ Statute.

    Disclaimer: The material provided above is for informational purposes only and is subject to change. We endeavor to keep all material up-to-date and correct but make no representations about the information's completeness, accuracy, or reliability. Laws vary by jurisdiction and are subject to change and interpretation based on individual factors that may differ between organizations. The material is not meant to constitute legal advice and we suggest you seek the advice of legal counsel in connection with any of the information presented.