Living and working conditions

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Working conditions

Leave (annual holiday, parental leave, etc.)


Annual holiday leave: annual holiday leave is set in collective agreements or individual contracts and may never be less than 30 calendar days.

It may not be replaced by financial compensation.

Wherever possible, the holiday schedule is established in each company by mutual agreement between workers and employers.

Paid leave: Workers are entitled to paid time off work for the following reasons and periods of time:

  • marriage, 15 calendar days;
  • birth of a child or death, accident or serious illness or hospitalisation of a family member, two calendar days or four if travel is required;
  • moving house, one day;
  • testing and examinations prior to childbirth, and training processes prior to an adoption or foster care process, the time needed where this coincides with working hours;
  • for premature birth involving hospitalisation of the newborn, one hour per working day;
  • for the breastfeeding of children under nine months of age, workers will be entitled to one hour of absence from work per day, or half an hour if taken at the beginning or end of the working day. This leave may be taken either by the mother or the father, if both are working;
  • for legal guardianship of a child under 12 or of a person with a disability, reduction of the working day by between one-eighth and one-half;
  • to fulfil public and personal obligations (jury duty, appearance in court, etc.), as long as necessary;
  • to perform trade union or workers’ representation duties, the time established by law or collective bargaining agreement.


In all cases, to exercise their right to leave, workers must notify their employer in advance and justify their absence.

Public holidays: set each year.

  • There are 14 public holidays per year, two of which are local holidays. In any case, the following holidays are observed as national public holidays: Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, 1 May (Labour Day) and 12 October (Spanish National Day).

If the holiday falls on a Sunday, the day off is moved to the following Monday.

 Unpaid leave: this is time off work without pay that must be requested by the worker and may be granted at the discretion of the employer, but must always be included in an individual or collective agreement.

Unpaid leave is not regulated by law.

Sick leave: this protects workers who are temporarily unable to work and are in need of medical assistance due to illness or accident. In these cases, workers are paid at least 60 % of their income. The employer normally pays the worker this temporary sick pay and is then reimbursed by the Social Security system. Sick leave can last for up to 18 months, after which time the situation is reviewed.

Maternity and paternity leave: Maternity leave lasts for 16 uninterrupted weeks (two additional weeks for each additional child in cases of multiple births). This time may be distributed at the discretion of the mother, provided that six weeks fall immediately subsequent to the birth. Independently of these six weeks of compulsory postpartum leave for the mother, if both parents work, the father may take a part of the leave period.

Moreover, in the event of the birth of a child, adoption or fostering, male workers will be entitled to suspension of their contract for paternity for an uninterrupted period of 13 days, which may be extended by two additional days for each additional child in the case of multiple births, adoption or fostering.

Leaves of absence: a leave of absence is defined as the situation where the employment contract is suspended at the request of the worker. Such suspension may be:

Compulsory: to hold a public office or perform trade union duties at provincial or higher level. It is mandatory to grant this leave and workers are entitled to return to their job post.

Voluntary: it is necessary to have worked for the company for at least one year. The worker is not entitled to return to their job post, although they are entitled to be given preference when there is a vacancy. This leave can last between four months and five years.

Leave to care for family members: this can be requested for a maximum period of three years to care for each child. Workers are also be entitled to one year’s leave, extendible by collective agreement, to care for family members who are unable to look after themselves and who do not perform any paid activity.

Text last edited on: 12/2018

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