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Working in Spain For Members

What are my rights to take breaks at work in Spain?

The Local Spain
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What are my rights to take breaks at work in Spain?
If your daily working day exceeds 6 hours, you are legally entitled to a minimum break of 15 minutes per day. Photo: Ketut Subinyanto/Pexels

If your Spanish boss if refusing your breaks or calling you back into work early following a late shift, you should learn a little about Spanish legislation when it comes to taking breaks and hours at work.

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Spain’s government has implemented several labour reforms in the last few years, including, notably, increases to the minimum wage and the establishment of the maximum working day, currently capped at 40 hours a week, and the Ministry of Labour hopes to reduce it to 38.5 in 2024 and to 37.5 in 2025.

Sadly, there’s no legislation dealing specifically with breaks yet. They are, however, already regulated in Article 34 of Spain’s Workers' Statute.

READ ALSO: Spain set to slash work week to 37.5 hours

Note that these rules are mandatory, so your boss or company cannot refuse them.

But what does the law actually say?

What are my rights?

According to the rules outlined in the worker statute, whenever your daily working day exceeds 6 hours, you are legally entitled to a minimum break of 15 minutes per day. This is to be taken during the working day and is only considered effective working time if it's included in the collective bargaining agreement (usually found in Clause 7 of employment contracts in Spain) or if it has been expressly established otherwise in your contract.

The latter is important because, if it is considered as such, the break should be paid. If it isn't, the company does not have to pay you for the break. In the case of underage workers (under 18) they are entitled to a minimum break of 30 minutes whenever the working day exceeds 4.5 hours.

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How many hours can I legally work?

According to the statute: "The number of ordinary hours of actual work may not exceed nine per day, unless a collective agreement or, failing this, an agreement between the undertaking and the workers' representatives provides for a different distribution of daily working time, with due regard in all cases for rest between working days.

Workers under the age of eighteen may not work more than eight hours of actual work per day, including, where appropriate, the time devoted to training and, if they work for several employers, the hours worked with each of them."

Breaks and time off between working days

The workers' statute also establishes the legal rest periods between the end of one working day and the beginning of the next. That is, between one working day and the next, you must be given at least 12 hours rest, legally speaking. So say you finish work at 10 p.m, for example, you should not start work again until 10 a.m. the next day.

READ ALSO: What are my rights if I work extra hours in Spain?

As far as days off go, Spanish legislation also sets out a minimum, which is one and a half uninterrupted days which, as a general rule, should generally be Saturday afternoon or, as the case may be, Monday morning and the whole of Sunday.

Obviously the exact days are off can be quite sector dependent.

However, for workers under the age of 18 days off must be at least two consecutive days.

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Irregular/unsocial working hours

The statute also states that, "by collective agreement or, failing that, by agreement between the company and the workers' representatives", companies or employers may make use of the irregular distribution of the working day -- that is to say, outside regular hours.

In the absence of an agreement, your company can schedule or arrange 10 percent of your working day irregularly throughout the year. However, even in this case, they are obliged to respect the minimum daily and weekly rest periods.

Moreover, if your company does do this, it must warn you at least 5 days in advance.

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