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

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.

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

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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Why you should think twice about buying a car in Spain, even if it’s second hand

A combination of supply and demand problems caused by the pandemic and a lack of microchips is making cars much harder to come by in Spain. Here's why you should perhaps consider holding off on buying that vehicle you had in mind for now.

Why you should think twice about buying a car in Spain, even if it's second hand

Getting your hands on a car – new, second hand, or even rental – is becoming much harder and more expensive in Spain.

The car industry has been hit by a perfect storm of conditions that have made new cars harder to come by and, as a result, caused prices to rapidly increase. 

According to Spain’s main consumer organisation, Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU), the microchip crisis affecting the entire globe, combined with an overall increase in the price of materials needed for car manufacturing and increased carbon emissions legislation has created a shortage of new cars in the country.

New cars

With less cars being manufactured, prices of new cars have gone up: a recent OCU report reports that new car prices have increased by 35 percent, higher even than Spain’s record breaking inflation levels in recent months. 

READ ALSO: Rate of inflation in Spain reaches highest level in 37 years

It is a shortage of microchips and semiconductors – a global problem – that has caused car production in Spain to plummet. In the first eight months of 2021, for example, production fell by 25.3 percent compared to 2019.

This is not a uniquely Spanish problem, however. The entire world is experiencing a shortage of semiconductor microchips, something essential to car manufacturing as each car needs between 200 to 400 microchips.

France’s car exports, for example, have fallen by 23.3 percent, Germany’s by 27 percent, and the UK’s by 27.5 percent.

Simply put, with less cars being produced and specialist and raw materials now more expensive, the costs are being passed onto consumers the world over.

Equally, these industry-specific problems were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.The average wait for a car to be delivered in Spain is now around four months, double what it was before the pandemic, and depending on the make and model you buy, it can be as long as a year.

Car dealerships across Spain were forced to sell cars during the pandemic to stay afloat, and now, when consumers want to purchase new cars, they don’t have enough to sell and can’t buy enough to keep up with demand due to the materials shortages that have kneecapped production.

Second-hand cars

With the scarcity and increased prices in the new car market, the effect is also being felt in the second-hand car market too. With many in Spain emerging from the pandemic facing precarious financial situations, then compounded by spiralling inflation in recent months, one would assume many would go for a cheaper, second hand option.

Yet, even second-hand prices are out of control. In Spain, the price of used cars have risen by 17 percent on average so far in 2022.

Cars 15 years old or more are 36 percent more expensive than they were in the first half of last year. The average price of a 15 year old car is now €3,950 but in 2021 was just €2,900 – a whopping increase of 36 percent.

As production has decreased overall, purchases of used models up to three years old have declined by 38.3 percent. Purchases of cars over 15 years old, on the other hand, have surged by 10.4 percent.

If you’re looking to buy a second-hand car in Spain, keep in mind that the reduced production and scarcity of new models is causing second-hand prices to shoot up.

Rental cars

These problems in car manufacturing have even passed down to car rentals and are affecting holidaymakers in Spain.

Visitors to Spain who want to hire a car will have a hard time trying to get hold of one this summer, unless they book well in advance and are willing to fork out a lot of money.

Over the past two years, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a shortage in rental cars in Spain. However, during peak holiday times such as Easter, the issue has been brought to the forefront.

It’s now common in Spain to see car rental companies hanging up signs saying “no hay coches” or no cars, similar to the no vacancy signs seen in bed & breakfasts and hotels.

READ ALSO: Why you now need to book a rental car in advance in Spain

While all of Spain is currently experiencing car rental shortages, the problem is particularly affecting areas of Spain with high numbers of tourists such as the Costa del Sol, the Balearic Islands and the Canaries.

According to the employers’ associations of the Balearic Islands, Aevab and Baleval, there are 50,000 fewer rental cars across the islands than before the pandemic.

In the Canary Islands, there is a similar problem. Occupancy rates close to 90 percent have overwhelmed car rental companies. The Association of Canary Vehicle Rental Companies (Aecav) says that they too have a scarcity 50,000 vehicles, but to meet current demand, they estimate they would need at least 65,000.

According to Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE), fewer than 20 million foreign tourists visited Spain in 2020 and revenues in the sector plummeted by more than 75 percent. While numbers did rise in 2021, the country still only welcomed 31.1 million foreign visitors last year, well below pre-pandemic levels and far short of the government’s target.

Many Spanish car rental companies have admitted that the fleet they offer is down to half after selling off vehicles in the pandemic due to the lack of demand.

End in sight?

With the microchip shortage expected to last until at least 2023, possibly even until 2024, it seems that the best course of action if you’re looking to buy a new or used car in Spain is to wait, let the market resettle, and wait for prices to start going down again.

If you’re hoping to rent a car when holidaying in Spain, be sure to book well in advance.