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Navigating Payroll in Spain: Insights for Global Outsourcing

Explore payroll in Spain with this comprehensive guide, providing insights for businesses considering global outsourcing opportunities in the Spanish market.
Navigating payroll in Spain



Spain, the second-largest nation in the European Union (EU) and the largest in Southern Europe, offers a diverse and vibrant market for businesses. However, navigating the intricacies of its payroll system can be a complex task, especially for companies looking to outsource globally. This article provides a comprehensive guide to understanding and managing payroll in Spain, ensuring compliance with local regulations and optimizing operations for efficiency. Please note that this article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax, or professional advice. Please visit our global payroll services and schedule a call for specific guidance related to your circumstances.

Understanding Spain’s Economic Landscape

Spain’s economic landscape is characterized by its diverse communities, multiple co-official languages, and a culture that draws from a variety of European influences. The nation is a member of several global organizations, including the United Nations, the EU, the Council of Europe, and NATO. Spain’s official currency is the Euro, which replaced the national currencies of 11 EU Member States in 1999.

Tax Year and Collection Methodology

In Spain, the tax year aligns with the calendar year. The method of tax collection varies depending on the type of tax. Some taxes are collected through self-assessment, while others, such as income tax, follow a pay-as-you-earn system with monthly withholdings. This system requires a self-assessment at the end of the term.

Labor Regulations and Employment Act

Spain’s labor regulations are governed by the Statute of Workers’ Rights, which outlines the organization of working time, including maximum weekly or daily working hours, rest periods, annual holidays, public holidays, paid leave, and overtime. The Ministry of Employment and Social Security oversees labor issues. Employment is highly regulated in Spain, and labor inspections are common. Non-compliance can result in significant penalties.

Working Hours

  • The average working hours must not exceed 40 hours per week, calculated on an annual basis.
  • The actual number of working hours may not exceed nine per day, unless a different distribution of daily working time is established through a collective agreement or contract.
  • Employees under 18 years of age may not work more than eight hours per day, including hours allocated to training.

National Holidays

  • Spain observes 10 national holidays per year, two of which are local holidays.
  • Each municipality has a total of 13 public holidays per year, with up to nine chosen by the government and at least two chosen locally.
Holiday Date
New Year’s Day January 1
Epiphany January 6
Good Friday Varies (March or April)
Labor Day May 1
Assumption of Mary August 15
Hispanic Day October 12
All Saints’ Day November 1
Constitution Day December 6
Immaculate Conception December 8
Christmas Day December 25

Time Off

  • Maternity/Paternity Leave: This leave lasts for 16 uninterrupted weeks, extendable by two weeks for each child from the second child onward in case of multiple births.

In addition to maternity/paternity leave and annual leave, Spanish labor laws provide for several other reasons for paid time off. These include:

  • Marriage: Employees are entitled to 15 calendar days off for their marriage.
  • Birth of a Child, Death, Accident, or Serious Illness or Hospitalization of a Family Member: Employees are allowed two calendar days off for these events, or four days if travel is required.
  • Moving House: Employees are entitled to one day off when they are moving to a new house.
  • Public and Private Obligations: Employees are allowed to take time off for fulfilling public and private obligations, such as jury service or court appearances.
  • Trade Union or Workers’ Representative Activities: Employees involved in trade union or workers’ representative activities are allowed to take time off as established by law or collective agreement.

These provisions ensure that employees can balance their work commitments with their personal life and civic responsibilities. As always, employees must inform their employer in advance and provide justification for their absence to enjoy these rights.

Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay

Spain’s minimum wage has seen a significant increase of around 22% in the 2019 budget, raising the net monthly minimum wage from €733 to approximately €900. Overtime, defined as hours worked over the maximum number of normal working hours, is capped at 80 hours per year. Overtime at night is prohibited, except in certain authorized special activities.

Year Minimum Wage (Net Monthly) Change (%) Overtime Cap (Hours/Year) Night Overtime
2018 €733 80 Prohibited
2019 €900 22.8 80 Prohibited
2020 €950 5.6 80 Prohibited
2021 €1,167 22.8 80 Prohibited

Employee Work Contracts

Spain offers various types of work contracts, including:

  • Indefinite contracts: These include normal indefinite contracts and several types of indefinite contracts with government incentives.
  • Temporary work contracts: These include contracts for specific projects or services, casual contracts due to production overload or backlog, contracts to sit in for employees entitled to return to their job, work experience contracts, and trainee contracts.

Income Tax Filing

Income tax withholdings in Spain are calculated according to a progressive scale based on the amount of taxable income expected to be paid during the tax year and the family status of the employee. Nonresident taxpayers are taxed at a flat rate on income obtained in Spain or arising from Spanish sources. In addition to income tax, there is a social security tax that must also be paid by employees and employers.

Payment Due Dates

The frequency of tax payments in Spain varies depending on the tax and the taxpayer. Individual business people, professionals, and entities that are not legal persons must file quarterly. Large businesses and VAT taxpayers required to keep record books on the Tax Agency E-Office and Public Administrations, including the Social Security, must file monthly.

Key Takeaways for Global Outsourcing

Navigating the complexities of Spain’s payroll system can be a daunting task, especially for companies looking to outsource globally. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Understanding the Landscape: Familiarize yourself with Spain’s economic landscape, including its diverse communities, multiple co-official languages, and the Euro as its official currency.
  • Compliance with Tax Regulations: Ensure compliance with Spain’s tax year and collection methodologies. Understand the difference between self-assessment and pay-as-you-earn systems.
  • Adherence to Labor Regulations: Adhere to Spain’s labor regulations, including working hours, national holidays, and time off policies. Be aware of the penalties for non-compliance.
  • Awareness of Wage and Overtime Pay: Stay updated on Spain’s minimum wage and overtime pay regulations. Note the significant increase in the minimum wage and the restrictions on overtime.
  • Knowledge of Work Contracts: Understand the different types of work contracts in Spain, including indefinite and temporary work contracts.
  • Compliance with Income Tax Filing: Comply with Spain’s income tax filing requirements, including the progressive scale for withholdings and the flat rate for nonresident taxpayers.
  • Timely Payment: Ensure timely payment of taxes, whether on a quarterly or monthly basis, depending on the tax and the taxpayer.

By understanding these key aspects of Spain’s payroll system, companies can ensure smooth operations, compliance with local regulations, and a positive work environment for their employees. As the global business landscape continues to evolve, staying informed and adaptable is crucial for success in global outsourcing.

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