Spain’s freelancers work seven extra hours a week

If you're self-employed in Spain and feel like you´re working harder than people on a salary, you could well be right, new figures show.

Spain's freelancers work seven extra hours a week
Photo: Jellaluna/Flickr

Spain's self-employed workers, or autónomos, are working an average 7 hours a week more than other workers in the country, Spain's Union of Professional and Working Self-employed People (UPTA) said on Wednesday.

These autónomos are now putting in 42.5 hours a week compared to the 37.5 hours of salaried workers.

This is up from the 6.6 extra hours that autónomos were working in the second quarter of 2012, UPTA said.

Citing figures from Spain's national stats office, the INE, UPTA said self-employed workers in Spain had been consistently working longer hours since the crisis kicked off.

Read The Local's article about the benefits and pitfalls of going self-employed in Spain.

These long work days showed how hard it was for autónomos to find work–life balance argued UPTA Sebastián Reyna in a statement. 

He added current economic conditions in Spain made it very self-employed people to earn a decent living, despite their rights being enshrined in the Freelance Workers Statute.

Tax pressure and low consumer demand "oblige self-employed people to redouble their efforts to break even," Reyna concluded.

There are some 2.9 million self-employed people in Spain, a recent study by human resources giant Adecco showed.

Around one in six Spanish workers, or 16.8 percent, of Spain's workers are autónomos, the company also found.

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Why does my salary vary between months in Spain if I’m a contract employee?

If you’re employed by a company in Spain, you may have noticed that what you get paid each month is sometimes higher and other times lower. Here's why this happens and how you can understand it better.

Why does my salary vary between months in Spain if I'm a contract employee?

Many asalariados (salaried employees) across Spain will have noticed that their wages at the beginning of 2022 may have been lower than that net salary they received at the end of 2021.

This is in fact usually not down to error, but comes as a result of your company withholding a higher amount of personal income tax (IRPF) at the start of the year, resulting in you getting paid less.

Companies in Spain are obliged to withhold a certain percentage of your salary called IRPF (Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Físicas).

This, in turn, gets passed on to Spain’s Hacienda tax agency. Your gross salary and personal circumstances mean that the income tax withheld will vary.

Your employer will calculate the amount of your gross salary you must pay to the Treasury as personal income tax and will deduct it from your payroll month by month. This can be done between the 12 or 14 salary payments per year.

Alternatively, a lower percentage of tax may be applied in the first months of the year, which is then adjusted by raising it in the final few months of the year, or vice versa, which is why fluctuations can occur.

You should keep in mind that if at the beginning of the year you received a raise, had a baby or opened a pension plan, it may mean that the tax withheld from your company will go up or down. Having a new baby for example gives you a reduction.  

What if I believe there is an error in my IRPF calculations?

If you still believe there is an error, this can be rectified whilst filing your annual income tax return – la declaración de la renta – which you should each year between April and June.

READ ALSO – La Renta: The important income tax deadlines in Spain in 2022

If you receive an annual gross salary of less than €22,000, you are not required to fill out an annual tax declaration, but may want to do so if you believe that your employer has been deducting too much tax. If the error is found in your favour, Spain’s tax agency will return your overpaid tax.

How can I find out how much tax will be deducted in advance?

If you want to be prepared and find out exactly how much tax your company will deduct from your salary each month, you can fill out this tax calculator for 2022 found on the Hacienda website. This will let you know exactly how much IRPF should be deducted from your wage, depending on your personal circumstances. 

Your employer may also ask you to fill out the form Modelo 145 to help them work out how much tax you should pay.

The form will ask you for your current personal situation such as marital status, if you have children or other dependents. Depending on the outcome of this, you may get further discounts on the amount of tax that is withheld.