Out-of-work freelancers face benefits blacklist

The Local Spain
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Out-of-work freelancers face benefits blacklist
Tomás Burgos, Secretary of State for Social Security, has promised to deal with the problems of self-employed people trying to claim benefits. Photo: ppcv/Flickr

Only three in ten self-employed Spanish workers manage to successfully claim unemployment benefits when their businesses fold.


Of the 3,134 applications for unemployment benefits made by formerly self-employed people in the first quarter of 2013, only 853 were accepted, Spanish financial daily La Expansion reported on Tuesday.

Under Spanish law, self-employed people, or so-called autónomos, pay a flat rate of some €250 a month. They can then elect to make extra voluntary payments that entitle them to unemployed benefits if they lose their job.

These payments can be claimed after a year of self-employment, and the coverage can last up to 12 months.

But insurance agencies who work with Spain's Social Security agency turned down 1,381 applications from autónomos from January though March.

Another 830 applications, meanwhile, are still under review.

The majority of refusals arose because of people's "failure to correctly justify" either their loss of income, or to explain why they were giving up their line of work.

Once common situation involves self-employed people giving up work because of rises in rental costs at their place at work which make that employment no longer viable.

Non-renewal of rental contracts, meanwhile, is another reason why autónomos try to join the benefit queues.

Neither of the above situations, however, are considered justifiable causes when it comes to signing on for unemployment benefits.

Freelance workers in the "modular" tax scheme who do not have full accounts of their income and work activities can easily fall foul of technicalities.

Since January, freelancers whose income is in excess of €50,000 per year, or whose customer base is mostly private individuals, have been excluded from the modular tax scheme.

Tomás Burgos, the Secretary of State for Social Security, has promised to address the problems generated by the current system of unemployment cover for freelancers.

He told organizations in the sector that he would "more clearly define the documentation that freelance workers need to prove that they have stopped working."

Some 500,000 self-employed workers in Spain currently make payments that they hope will ens.


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