Key Differences Between Spanish And English Employment Law: An Employer's Guide

Summary and implications

The Spanish legal system is a civil law system based on legal codes and laws that have their roots in Roman law. Like its English counterpart Spanish employment law is ever-changing.

The governments of both jurisdictions have made changes to employment law in an effort to help business, control costs and stimulate the economy. For example:

in England and Wales the length of service that is required to claim unfair dismissal has increased from one year to two years and pre-claim conciliation and tribunal fees have been introduced; and the Spanish government has put in place a package of incentives to promote job creation and entrepreneurship. In conjunction with our Broadlaw Group partner, Roca Junyent, we have prepared an overview of some of the key differences between English and Spanish employment law.

Watch this space for similar comparisons with other jurisdictions.

English employment law versus Spanish employment law

Issue England and Wales Spain Do you need to have a written contract of employment?

No, but the employer must provide the employee with a written statement of certain particulars of employment as prescribed by section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

No, except for temporary contracts of employment, which must include amongst other terms the reason why the temporary worker is required (for example, to work on a specific project) and some types of contracts included in a public programme for the promotion of employment (for example, an apprenticeship contract).

Is there a national minimum wage?

All UK workers who are over school leaving age must be paid the national minimum wage. The hourly rate depends on the worker's age and the rate is adjusted in October of each year. The current national minimum wage limits are as follows:

- 21 and over: £6.50

- 18 to 20: £5.13

- Under 18: 3.79

- Apprentice: £2.73 (for those aged 16 to 18 or for those aged 19 or who are in the first year of their apprenticeship).

The official minimum wage is set by the Spanish Government each year. The rates for 2014 (for all age groups and industries) are €645.30 per month or €9,034.20 per year (including 12 monthly and two extra payroll payments).

Collective agreements may however provide for higher amounts to be paid.

What rights do employees have to paid time off when they are sick?

Subject to satisfying the statutory qualification requirements employees who have been off work for four or more consecutive days receive statutory sick pay (currently £87.55 per week) for up to 28 weeks. This may be supplemented by contractual or discretionary sick pay by the employer.

Employees receive social security payments for up to a maximum of 18 months when the employee has been off work for four or more consecutive days for common illness or accident. If the sick leave is due to an occupational illness or accident, employees are entitled to be paid from the day following the day off work.

Some employers, on their own initiative or in accordance with the provisions of a collective agreement, supplement the social security payment to match the employee's current...

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