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Employment Law Overview Spain


As is the case in other European countries, Spanish labour law is very comprehensive and provides significant protection for employees. The labour law regulates individual and collective relationships between employees and employers, the scope of which extends to other related areas such as social security, health and safety at work, special employment relationships and procedural law.

Key Points

  • Non-EU citizens must obtain a work permit.
  • In principle, employment contracts are presumed to be for an indefinite term. However, the number of fixed-term employment contracts are subject to some limitations.
  • Minimum working conditions are largely set out in the Workers’ Statute and applicable collective agreements.
  • Employment contracts are automatically transferred with the business to the new employer. Employees’ rights and obligations are also transferred.
  • Termination can be based on objective grounds.
  • Dismissals are void if the termination is discriminatory or involves protected employees.

The economic crisis of 2008 revealed the unsustainability of the Spanish labour model. The labour legislation was updated in 2012 to adequate itself in a time of crisis within the labour market. Royal Decree-Law 3/2012 of 10 February, on urgent measures to reform the labour market, significantly modified the institutional framework of Spanish labour relations.

The main sources of Spanish employment law include:

  • The Spanish Constitution dated 17 December 1978.
  • Royal Decree 2/2015 (the Workers’ Statute).
  • Royal Decree-Law 3/2012 of 10 February on urgent measures to reform the labour market.
  • Law 3/2012 of 6 July 2012 on urgent measures to reform the labour market.
  • Royal Decree-Law 16/2013 on measures to improve hiring.
  • Law 5/2000 on Labour Infractions and Sanctions.
  • Law 31/1995 on Work Risk Prevention.
  • Law 3/2007 on Equality between Men and Woman.
  • Royal Decree 8/2015 on Social Security.
  • Collective Bargaining Agreements, applicable to both the company and its workers.
  • Employment contracts.
  • Habits and common usage.
  • General Principles of Law.

New Developments

The most important new legislation from 2018 to 2020 includes the following:

  • The Spanish Data Protection Act 2018 (Organic Law for the Protection of Personal Data and Guarantee of Digital Rights) came into force on 5 December 2018. This regulation adapts Spanish law to the model established by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’).
  • Royal Decree-Law 17/2019 of 25 January introduces a new article (Article 70 bis) in the General Regulation on the quotes and liquidation of social security rights, to establish the responsibility of the different administrations and public entities.
  • Royal Decree-Law 20/2018 of 7 December on urgent measures for economic competitiveness in the sector of industry and trade in Spain, allows the manufacturing industry to apply the regulation of partial retirement under the fulfilment of certain requirements.
  • Royal Decree-Law 6/2019 of 1 March, on urgent measures to guarantee equal treatment and opportunities for men and women in employment and occupation.
  • Royal Decree-Law 8/2019 of 8 March, on urgent social protection measures and against precarious work during the working day.
  • Royal Decree-Law 4/2020 of 18 February, derogates the objective dismissal due to non-attendance at work as established in article 52. d) of the consolidated text of the Workers’ Statute.
  • Royal Decree-Law 28/2020 of 22 September on remote working.
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