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Should my employer cover my bills if I work from home in Spain?

With more people than ever working from home in Spain, one of the main doubts among contract employees, autónomos and remote workers is whether the companies they work for should cover their home internet, electricity and other work costs.

Should my employer cover my bills if I work from home in Spain?
Does my company cover my bills if I work from home in Spain? Photo: Julie JAMMOT / AFP

The answer is a bit of a grey area and will depend on several factors, including the company you work for, whether you’re employed or self-employed or if you’re a remote worker for a company outside of Spain.

If you once worked in the office, but are now working from home all day using more electricity, heating or air-con than you would have before, it makes sense that your company should be contributing to these costs, but is this always the case?

Employed workers for companies based in Spain

The first step in answering this question is to look at what Spain’s Remote Work Law says on the matter – Article 12 of Spain’s Ley 10/2021, de 9 de julio states that “Remote work must be defrayed or compensated by the company, and it must not result in a worker covering expenses related to equipment, tools and other means related to their work activity”.

This seems to suggest that companies are responsible for paying bills related to work tasks, but according to Control Laboral, a website specialising in workers’ rights in Spain, in practice the law is ambiguous.

They say that it doesn’t include any actual figures and doesn’t specify what tools are needed to carry out the work, even though it does seem to suggest that the companies should be contributing to remote workers’ bills.  

In order for this law to hold up, the website suggests that an agreement must be drawn up by human resources, stating exactly what the company will cover and how much, and that it must be signed by both parties for it to be valid.

If you’re working for a company in Spain that doesn’t offer any help in this regard, it’s important to talk to them to see if this can change.

If you were hired as a remote worker and they’ve never offered any payment for bills, it may be in your contract that these aren’t covered, but if you’ve been working from home since the Covid-19 pandemic, a new contract may need to be drawn up and you will need to negotiate with your employer. 

READ ALSO- Readers reveal: ‘Remote working in Spain has been a bittersweet experience’

Self-employed in Spain

If you’re autónomo or freelance and work for multiple companies or even just one, are any of those expected to help pay your bills? Again, this will really depend on the company and what it says in your contract, but generally, if you’re working for multiple companies as a freelancer, they will not pay your bills.

It’s up to you to factor this into your overheads and invoice accordingly. What you can do though, is to offset some of the cost of your bills on your tax returns. Keep in mind it’s a very minimal amount. You will only be able to offset the percentage of the bill that equates to the area you work in – your home office for example and then only the percentage of time you actually work in that room. This means that on an average energy bill you will only be able to offset €3-4, depending on the size of your office and how much energy you use.

Another unfair factor is that energy bills can only in be in one person’s name, so if you and your partner both work from home and the bills are in your name, you are the only one who can deduct them on your tax returns. 

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

Remote worker for a company outside of Spain

If you’re working for a company outside of Spain but live here, then your company will not be covered by Spanish laws. You may have to look at what the laws say in the country the company is based in.

Again this will be something that you’ll have to negotiate with your employer and get added to your contract, if there’s no mention of the company covering any bills. 

It may be a little more difficult for you and your company to define which and how much of the bills they will cover.

For example, unless your company states that you must be living in Spain, they may be unwilling to cover extra electricity bills because of air-con costs. They may also not believe that you need to put your heating on in winter and may need any extra help in the colder months of the year.

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Men earn 21 percent more than women in Spain

The gender wage gap is still a problem in Spain and not only do women earn less than men, but twice as many women are also low-paid employees.

Men earn 21 percent more than women in Spain

Women earn on average 21 percent less than men in Spain and they are in the minority when it comes to the highest wage brackets, according to recent data from Spain’s National Statistics Institute’s (INE) Active Population Survey.

The survey also found that the number of female employees with the lowest salaries is double that of men. This is due to the fact that women still do the majority of the low-paid work in Spain.

And it seems the situation is not improving. The gender wage gap has barely narrowed by six points since 2006 and has even increased by two points since 2020 when the difference was 19 percent.

Men earned an average of €2,276 per month in 2021, while women earned €1,883 per month or €393 less.

The wage gap widens even further when it comes to salaries in the highest-paid jobs. One in three men received a high salary compared with one in four women the study found.

When looking at the lowest salaries – considered to be less than €1,376 –, 40.5 percent of women received below this amount compared to only 20.2 percent of men.

According to researcher Florentino Felgueroso at the Foundation for Applied Economics Studies (FEDEA) women in Spain are often less skilled and have low-paid jobs because the burden of childcare, as well as care for the elderly, usually falls on them.

The jobs held by women in Spain are also some of the most precarious. According to data from the INE, the lowest-paid jobs are in domestic work as cleaners or care workers and 90 percent of these are women.

The study found that this is also true of the second lowest-paid jobs in the hospitality industry and admin sector.

At the other end of the scale are the highest-paid industries – one of which is electric and gas workers, where there 30 percent more men employed than women. There are also twice as many more men than women working in the information and communications sector, another industry with high salaries.

Among the poorest workers, 10 percent of men earn a salary of €595, while the poorest 10 percent of women receive just €562. On the other side of the spectrum, the richest 10 percent of men earn €5,130 per month, compared to €5,029 per month for women.  

Another factor that widens the pay gap the study discovered is that there are six times more women with part-time contracts than men in Spain – 22 percent compared to just 6.6 percent.  

Spain’s gender pay gap is higher than the EU average of 13 percent according to the latest data from the European Commission.   

The latest data available for France shows that men earn on average 16 percent more than women while in Germany it stands at 18 percent. 

According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics the latest data from April 2022 showed that men earned 8.3 percent more than women.