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These are the days off you could be entitled to in Spain

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These are the days off you could be entitled to in Spain
Photo by Tyler Franta/Unsplash

Working culture in Spain can be very different from what you are used to. Long working hours, two-hour lunch breaks and all those public holidays.


It's not (entirely) true that everyone has to take their holidays in August so what are the rules? 

Obviously there's maternity leave but did you know you are also entitled to paid leave to visit your new nephew or neice? 

Here's what you are entitled to as an employee in Spain:


Photo by Sven Scheuermeier on Unsplash

Let's start with the basics. As stated in article 38 of the Statute for Employees, full time workers are entitled to 30 calendar days per year off – this term is confusing because it includes weekends in a month so for the typical Monday to Friday worker it actually amounts to 22 working days (dias laborales).   

If you work part time, then your entitled days off are calculated on a pro-rata basis.

READ MORE: Spain's public holidays in 2021: Official list

When can you take them?

By law, you are not entirely free to decide when you want to take your holidays.

The holiday period must be applied for and then authorized by the company and in specific jobs the holiday periods are strictly defined.

For example, school teachers have clearly defined holiday periods and they are not free to take them during term time.

Likewise some employers insist on compulsory vacation periods such as two weeks in August or a week over Christmas, with employees free to apply for the remaining days outside of those fixed periods.

The union agreement of each trade may contain specific information regarding the holiday entitlement.

Legally an employee has until the 15th of January to use up his designated vacation days but some companies are flexible on this and will allow employees to add them to the following year’s entitlement.

However, this is not fixed in law so check that your employer will allow the carry over or risk losing your holiday days if not taken by January 15th.

Workers are NOT entitled to extra pay in lieu of non-taken holiday except in the case of the ending of a contract when they can the value of those days will be added to any redundancy package.

Public holidays

Everyone is off on Good Friday to enjoy the Easter parades. Photo: AFP

Luckily Spain celebrates quite a few public holidays – 14 in fact. But they differ from region to region.

So everyone will get religious holidays for Christmas Day, Three Kings Day, Good Friday, August 15th for the Assumption of Mary, November 1st for All Saints Day and December 8th for the Immaculate Conception as well as Spain’s National Day of October 12th and Constitution Day on December 6th, if they fall on a week day.

On top of that there are regional holidays and municipal holidays which differ from year to year depending on whether they fall on a weekend or not.

Workers are also entitled to May 1st, traditionally a day when protests are held.

Spain also has a habit of running these holidays together to make a puente, so for example if October 12th falls on a Thursday, many employers will allow a day off in between to ‘bridge’ it to a weekend. But that isn’t an extra freebie and is deducted from your holiday allowance.

Maternity leave 

Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash

Like most countries, in Spain if you have a baby, you get time off. Spain’s statutory maternity leave is 16 weeks on full pay, rising to 18 weeks for twins and 20 weeks for triplets.

If for any reason the newborn needs to stay in hospital after the birth the payment will extend to cover this period plus 16 weeks after the baby is discharged.

There is an additional possibility of extending leave to 18 weeks in certain special circumstances and extended maternity leave is also available for women who cannot perform their job because it puts their pregnancy at risk.

Extended benefits are also offered to breastfeeding mothers if their job prevents them to nurse.

After the birth, breastfeeding mothers are eligible for two paid, half-hour daily breaks to either feed or express milk.

The same maternity leave is available for those who adopt a child under the age of six. It is also offered to women who suffer miscarriages or fetus over 180 days (six months).

Paternity leave

Photo: Gonzalo Merat/Flickr


A new law introduced on April 1st improved paternity leave for Spain’s fathers. It now stands at 8 weeks, increasing to 12weeks in 2020 and 16weeks in 2021 when it will match that of mothers.

The first two weeks is compulsory and must be taken immediately after the birth (or adoption) of the child and the remainder can be taken either during the mother’s maternity leave or anytime within a year of the birth of the child,

And this is where it gets tricky. The father cannot ‘transfer’  any part of his leave to the mother, but the mother can transfer up to four weeks to the father at least until 2021 when fathers will be entitled to the full 16 weeks.

Birth leave

Photo by ?? Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

Because family is so important in Spain, and everyone is in a rush to meet the newest edition of the family, then if one of your close family members, (siblings, children) gives birth then you are entitled to ´birth leave´ of two days, immediately after the child is born.

Wedding leave

Photo: Alagich Katya/Flickr



If you are getting married then under Spanish employment law you are entitled to 15 days paid leave. Even if it’s your second or third nuptial (as long as you are marrying a different person each time).

But the Workers’ Statute only refers to right to paid leave for legally established marriages and not civil partnerships (pareja de hecho) so if you are looking for a reason to go the whole hog, this is it.


Photo by Rhodi Lopez on Unsplash

In the case of bereavement of a close family member, the employee is entitled to paid leave.

So two days are given in the case of the death of a parent, grandparents, child, grandchild or sibling, of either you or your spouse, if legally married and not in a registered partnership (pareja de hecho) unless the latter is specifically mentioned in the convenio in place for your line of work.

According to the Citizens Advice Bureau Spain, you are entitled to two natural days counting from the day of death. “If the family member in question dies on Saturday, you are not entitled to any extra paid leave if you work Monday to Friday,” explains CAB. “If he/she dies on Monday morning, you are supposed to be back at work on Wednesday.”

Two extra days are given if you have to travel to attend the funeral.

Of course these bereavement days are suited to the Spanish custom of burying the deceased the day after they depart but will be problematic for those from other countries where the funeral often takes place days or even weeks later.


Moving House

Photo by Michal Balog on Unsplash

Yes, in Spain, you are entitled to a  whole day of paid leave to move house.


You are entitled to time off to attend medical appointments and all of those official appointments required for navigating through Spanish bureaucracy, so if you need to get your NIE or driving licence changed, you will be allowed the hours of to attend the appointment.

Same goes if you are called up for jury service when by law you are given paid leave to cover the required absence.


Sick Leave

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

When an employee is sick for one to three days, they receive no compensation for those missed days under Spanish law, although some companies will allow a certain number of sick days per year.

However, when an employee is out for 4 to 15 days, the employer must pay 60 percent of the salary for each day.

For sick leaving longer than that, Spain’s National Institute of Social Security (INSS) takes over the payments, paying 60 percent for up to 20 days, and 75 percent for 21 days up until the maximum leave period (18 months). Employers may have to complete up to 100 percent (depending on the relevant collective agreement).

For injuries that occur on the job, Social Security pays 75 percent from the first day going forward.




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