Health For Members

How long can I take off sick from work in Spain without needing a doctor’s note?

The Local Spain
The Local Spain - [email protected]
How long can I take off sick from work in Spain without needing a doctor’s note?
How long can I take off sick from work in Spain without needing a doctor’s note? Photo: Pixabay / Pexels

At some point in your working life you will have had to take time off work due to illness, but exactly how many days can you take off in Spain without need a note from your doctor?


From colds and flu to stomach viruses, injuries and migraines, everyone has suffered from one of these at one point or another, unable to go to work, but is there a standard amount of time in Spain you can take off without needing some type of proof?

Sometimes it can be difficult to know exactly how long you'll be ill for or whether it's actually necessary to go to the doctor or not. 

Although you of course have to inform your company that you’re ill and how many days you’ll likely be away from work, when do you need to provide a note from your doctor to sign you off?

The first three days of absence are not actually considered to be official sick leave in Spain and you won’t be paid for them through your social security benefits. Depending on your company’s collective agreement, however, your employer may be the one who pays you during those first three days.

READ ALSO: How self-employed workers in Spain can request sick leave

The general rule is that after consulting a doctor, you have three business days in which to submit a sick leave report to your company. This is because social security compensation will only kick in if you are sick for more than four days. 

You will start to receive payments from the fourth day of absence from work and will be expected to show a doctor’s note explaining that you’re unable to work. From this time you will receive 60 percent of the regulatory base salary. If you are ill for longer than 21 days, this will go up to 75 percent from day 21.


It’s important to keep in mind that the process is different between having to take the day off work because you’re feeling unwell and need to visit the doctor or being unable to work for a longer period of time.

So we’ve established that you definitely need to provide a doctor’s note if you're ill for longer than three days, but what about during those first three days?

Many companies state that during the first three days, a note from any type of health professional is sufficient, while for any longer it must be from your GP or other official doctor.

READ ALSO: How long can you take off from work in Spain for health reasons?

But the answer is actually a little more complicated than that, because although some companies’ collective agreements state that you do need one during these initial few days, Spanish legislation does not legally recognise the need to do so.

Order ESS/1187/2015, which regulates the management and control of temporary disability during the first year, says that the doctors' notes from the first three days are not collected. 

Furthermore, Royal Decree 625/2014, which regulates certain aspects of the processes of temporary disability only states that: "The issuance of the medical leave report is the "act that causes the initiation of actions leading to the recognition of the right to temporary disability benefits”.

This regulation means that the person (or a representative) must get an official note from the doctor when they need to take more than 72 hours off work, but there is no mention of providing one during the first three days.


Of course, if you have a bad cold or flu and you can’t go to work, you generally won’t be visiting a health professional during that time either, unless it continues for more than three days.

To resolve the doubts it’s important to check the exact terms and conditions of your contract and your company’s collective agreement. It’s also important to speak with your employer or HR department during the first three days who will inform you they require you to have a note from a doctor during this time or not.

Some legal professionals, however, state that the safest thing to do is to always request medical leave, even if it is only for one day, in order to avoid confusion. While this may be the best course of action in an ideal world it’s very unlikely that you’ll get an appointment with your doctor for the same day, so this may not be possible. 

Many regions in Spain have introduced online requests for a doctor’s note. For example in Catalonia on the MevaSalut website, there’s a section where you can request medical leave, however, this is only for specific circumstances such as an emergency, a broken bone or a hospitalisation. For all other reasons, they state that you must contact your GP.

Keep in mind, as of April 1st, 2023, it's no longer mandatory for you to send your medical discharge report (from day four onwards) to your company as this will be done automatically however, you should do this anyway just to be sure. 


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also