CONFIRMED: Spain’s self-employed workers to pay €8 more a month in 2022

Millions of self-employed workers in Spain will pay €294 a month in social security contributions next year, €8 more than the €286 most 'autónomos' currently pay.

A craftsman poses in his shop at Las Dalias night market in San Carlos, on Ibiza Island on August 24, 2021. (Photo by JAIME REINA / AFP)
A craftsman poses in his shop in Ibiza. Self-employed workers like him will pay €96 more a year in contributions to the Spanish taxman in 2022. Photo: Jaime Reina/AFP

The Spanish government on Thursday confirmed that its forthcoming 2022 budget will include an increase in tax contributions for the country’s autónomos (self-employed workers). 

The budget approved by Spain’s Council of Ministers reflects the increase of the minimum contribution to €960.60 per year, at a rate of 30.6 percent, which represents an annual increase of €96. 

Self-employed workers who’ve been registered as self-employed for a couple of years currently pay €286 a month on average, whereas new autónomos pay monthly contributions of €60 for the first year, a figure which then rises progressively. 

The maximum contribution base has also increased to €4,139.40.

The change will affect almost 2 of the approximately 3.2 million self-employed workers in Spain, including many foreign workers.

It is estimated the hike will earn the Spanish government up to €173 million extra in social security contributions.

Understandably, the proposal has been met with opposition by self-employed workers.

The announcement in late September that Spain’s minimum wage would rise by €15 a month with immediate effect had already alerted autónomo associations that this would result in the increase of monthly contributions for the country’s self-employed workers. 

This is the case because Spain’s minimum wage sets the minimum social security contribution base for workers, but as salaried employees have their social security paid by their companies, only autónomos will feel this minor pinch. 

Spain’s national autónomo association ATA had estimated the increase would be “between €3 and €12” before Spain’s Social Security department confirmed on Thursday it would be €8.

Another self-employed workers group, the Unión de Profesionales y Trabajadores Autónomos (UPTA), has decried the rise in contributions at such an economically precarious time as Spain begins its Covid-19 economic recovery.

“We do not understand the repeated refusal of the Ministries of Economy and Finance to put a stop to one of the greatest fiscal injustices suffered by the group of self-employed workers,” said UPTA president Eduardo Abad. 

“We are astonished,” he went on to say, “that no political party has taken a single step to try to solve it.”

Lorezo Amor, President of ATA, another prominent self-employed workers group, also criticised the timing of the move: “There is no doubt that this is not the best time to increase self-employed quotas,” he said.

The government, however, claims that the increase in both base levels – the minimum and maximum contributions – are in line with inflation forecasts and do not, according to Minister for Social Security, Israel Arroyo, represent a “rise in real terms.”

The increase, expected to come into effect from January 1 2022, will affect most self-employed workers by an average of an 8 euro increase a month, capped at €294 a month for top earners. 

But the vast majority of self-employed workers are already forced to pay the lowest rate: it is estimated that 85 percent of Spain’s self-employed pay the lowest available contribution rate.

Spain’s freelance workers pay some of the highest rates in Europe, far above those in the UK.

Yet these freelancers will now have to pay more, regardless of their income and uncertainty following the pandemic, and both freelancers and unions believe the change is fundamentally unfair. “Those with lower incomes are harmed,” Abad said, “as they have to make a contributive effort that is above their possibilities”.

READ ALSO: Self-employed in Spain – What you should know about being ‘autónomo’

Article by Conor Patrick Faulkner

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‘Lactancia’: How to get extended parental leave in Spain

Many mothers and fathers in Spain are unaware that they can apply for a "permiso de lactancia", or an extended parental leave for breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. Here's who is eligible and how to apply.

'Lactancia': How to get extended parental leave in Spain

Spain became a world leader when it comes to equal parental leave between both parents in 2021, with a law increasing paternity leave to 16 weeks – the same amount as previously only reserved for new mothers.

But new parents in Spain have other rights in the period following the birth of a child that many people are unaware of. These include the right to a reduced working day and extended leave for breastfeeding and bottle-feeding.

Read also: How to apply for parental leave in Spain

Known as permiso de lactancia or cuidado del hijo lactante, this allows new parents to take one hour off each day to feed their newborn child. This extra time can be taken during the child’s first nine months, and can be doubled or tripled in the case of a multiple birth.

Although in principle this nursing leave is for taking some time off work during the day to feed your child, it can also be used in different ways:

  1. Taking an hour break during your working day, or two half hours, to feed your baby. In other words, you are allowed to take breaks from work during the day after you go back to work following your parental leave.
  2. Reducing your working day by half an hour. If you want to get to work a bit later in the morning or leave a bit earlier, you can reduce your working day by half an hour. In this case, the time you take off for feeding is not one hour, but only half an hour.
  3. Accumulated nursing leave. Instead of taking one hour off from work every day, you can also accumulate the hours in order to take entire days off for feeding. This option is not available to all workers, it will have to be approved by the Convenio Colectivo or negotiated with your employer.

How many hours or days can I take off to feed my baby?

This depends on whether you want to extend it into an hour every day, or whether you are accumulating the hours into days. You can take 1 hour (or two half hours) for every working day until your child is nine months old. For example, if you go back to work after 4 months, you can take an hour off a day for the remaining five months. One hour per 22 working days a month would be a total of 110 hours in five months, which would be around 14 days.

Is this only for breastfeeding mothers?

No. Both parents are elegible for permiso de lactancia in the case that they are employed by a company. This extra time can’t be claimed on Social Security or if you are receiving unemployment benefits. Freelancers or autónomos are also not elegible. This extra leave is also non-transferible: only one parent can take it and can’t pass it on to the other half way through.

Who pays for this nursing leave?

The cost of permiso de lactancia falls on the employer, not the Spanish social security system. The employee will earn their usual salary during this extra leave.

Can your company refuse to grant nursing leave?

No. Your company is obliged to grant nursing leave, since it’s a basic worker’s right. The employer is also not allowed to reduce it, or make the employee use it in a specific way.

How do I apply for it?

To get nursing leave you need to write a letter to your employer with at least 15 days notice. You should state the start and end date of your nursing leave, and specify if you are opting for a reduced working day or lactancia acumulada (accumulating hours into full days off).