Below you will find our essential guide to finding a job in Spain for expats looking to make the move here. You will learn about how to find a job, employment opportunities available, visa's and work permits, worker rights and the current state of the Spanish job market.
If you are planning to take the leap and move to Spain permanently, there is a good chance that you will need to obtain some form of regular employment.
Many expat forums on the internet are full of posts from people enquiring as to employment situation here in Spain. So it's evident that it's a real concern for many people looking to move here.
To become a full-time resident in Spain, you will need to provide proof of employment here or at least prove that you have a sufficient income to support yourself. Unlike the UK, there is no real welfare system for foreigners who have not paid into the social security system to fall back on. So making sure you have some form of employment or income is a prerequisite to living here.
The Job Market In Spain
Although Spain is one of Europe's largest economies and is slowly crawling its way out of the economic downturn, it also has one of the highest unemployment rates with around 18% of the population currently out of work.
Youth unemployment is of particular concern with around 40% of youngsters looking for work and new graduates finding it difficult to secure permanent well paid positions, many of whom end up seeking opportunities abroad.
Will I Need to Speak Spanish?
Unless you are fluent in Spanish, it's fair to say that you will be restricted as to which opportunities will be available to you. Needless to say, the quicker you learn to speak Spanish the better you will fare when it comes to seeking employment.
For English speakers only, the main industries in which to find employment are tourism, real estate, teaching English, building and construction, sales and industries which provide services to expat communities. You also need to be aware that many jobs along the coast such as bar and restaurant work can be mostly seasonal.
Requirements For Foreigners to Work in Spain
If you are a citizen of the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) including Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, you will NOT need a work permit and at this time and can freely travel to Spain in order to seek employment.
Those from outside of the EU and EEA will need to acquire a Spanish residence visa and work permit before they can undertake any employment. More info on visas can be found here http://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/expat-tips/172-visa-requirements-for-spain.html
All workers will also need to obtain an NIE number and register themselves with the Spanish tax authorities, the Agencia Tributaria in order to pay their income tax (IRPF). For further details on NIE numbers, see our other article http://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/expat-tips/75-how-to-get-your-spanish-nie-number.html
How Much Will I Be Paid?
In 2017, the Ministry of Employment and Social Security (Ministerio de Empleo y Seguridad Social) increased the minimum wage in Spain to €858.60 per month (12 monthly payments).
For part-time workers, the official minimum wage is half of the full-time minimum wage, so is €429.30 per month (12 monthly payments).
The Spanish monthly minimum wage is quite low compared to European neighbours France, the UK, the Netherlands, Ireland and Belgium, but significantly higher than Greece, Poland and Portugal, which has a minimum wage of around €618 per month.
There isn't an official hourly minimum wage rate in Spain. Instead, the government sets the standard working week to 40 hours. This means that the current minimum wage in Spain equates to around €5.36 per hour. This compares to the UK current rate of £7.50 per hour (€8.41) for over 25's, £7.05 per hour (€7.91) for 21-24 year olds and £5.60 per hour (€6.28) for 18-20 year olds.
To make up for the lower minimum wage, workers in Spain enjoy more days holiday each year than their European counterparts. Workers are legally entitled to 30 days of paid holiday each year (after 12 months employment) in addition to 14 days of national bank holidays.
Statutory Maternity and Paternity Leave
Statutory maternity leave is available in Spain and is currently 16 weeks paid leave, 18 weeks for twins and 20 weeks for triplets. At least six of the weeks must be taken after the birth of the child. There is certain criteria that you will have to meet such as you will need to have made at least 180 days of social security contributions in the past seven years prior to the birth or as an alternative, at least 360 days over the course of your working life.
The mother is also permitted to take a further one year off after the birth, but is counted as unpaid leave. A further two years can be taken unpaid, but it is at the employer's discretion as to whether they offer you your previous position.
Fathers also have the right to statutory paternity leave. As from 2017, the allocation is 30 days (previously 15 days), although this may be extended if there are any complications with the birth.
Statutory Sick Pay In Spain
As a general rule, sick pay in Spain is not available for absences of three days or less. From 4-20 days statutory sick pay is 60% of your normal salary. From the 21st day the payment increases to 75% of salary up to a maximum of 18 months at which time, the situation will need to be reviewed.
Spanish Labour Laws
Spain has a stringent set of labour laws to protect workers. For example, working hours are restricted to a maximum of nine hours per day with a minimum of 12 hours between shifts. Workers are also permitted one 15 minute break if working for more than six hours.
In the major cities such as Barcelona and Madrid, a standard one hour lunch break is the norm, particularly within larger companies. Outside of the cities, many Spanish businesses close for the traditional siesta, which is between 2pm and 5pm and choose to stay open later to around 8pm.
For further details are contracts, please see our page on Employment Contracts In Spain.
Unemployment benefits or El Paro are available to anyone who has been employed and paid contributions into the social security system. There are some exceptions though and how much you get will depend on how long you have been employed and how much you have paid in contributions.
You are considered legally unemployed if you meet the following conditions.
If you have become unemployed after working for over 12 months, you will be entitled to full unemployment benefits. You must be under retirement age, legally unemployed, have registered as a job seeker and have worked for more than 360 days in the previous six years.
If you have worked for less than 12 months and become unemployed, you will not be eligible for the unemployment benefit, but may qualify for what is known as an unemployment subsidy or Subsidio por Desempleo, although you will need to meet certain conditions.
The amount you are entitled to will depend on your salary in the previous 180 days. As a rule of thumb, you will normally be entitled to around 70-80% of your usual salary up to a maximum of 24 months. Those with dependent children may also receive a supplement to boost the payment amount.
The duration of the payments can also vary and are determined by how long you have been paying social security contributions. For example, those who have previously contributed between 360 and 539 days will be entitled to up to four months support payments. At the other end of the scale, those who have paid in for over 2,160 days (six years) will receive payments for up to two years unemployment.
|Contribution Period in Days||Benefit Period in Days|
|360 to 539||120|
|540 to 719||180|
|720 to 899||240|
|900 to 1,079||300|
|1,080 to 1,259||360|
|1,260 to 1,439||420|
|1,440 to 1,619||480|
|1,620 to 1,799||540|
|1,800 to 1,979||600|
|1,800 to 2,159||660|
How to Find a Job in Spain
Like in the UK or anywhere else, there are many ways in which you can find a new job. These may include:-
Word of Mouth - An important thing to do when you move to a new country is to network and build your social circles. By doing this, you will will not only make more friends, you will also improve your chances of finding work if the need should arise.
Newspapers - There are many newspapers published daily in Spain and these can be an excellent source of jobs. There are also many English newspapers available in the expat regions and along the coast and these can also be very beneficial. Some of the most popular English language newspapers are:-
Online - Thanks to the internet, information and resources are at our fingertips and you will find many websites for employment in Spain with literally thousands of jobs on offer. These include The Local, Think Spain, Sur In English, Expatica Jobs, EURES (European Job Mobility Portal), SEPE, Empleate, The Guardian, Reed, Europe Language Jobs, Meetup Spain, Guiri Business, XpatJobs, Jobs in Barcelona, Jobs in Madrid.
Job Sites For Employment In Spain
There are also a large number of online expat websites and forums where you can find opportunities either via classified ads or by posting in the forums. Some of the expat websites include:-
If you are a freelancer and are looking to work from home, you could also try some of the many online sites where you can offer your services including People Per Hour, Freelancer and Upwork.
Self Employment in Spain
Of course, being employed is not the only option for those moving to Spain. You also have the option of becoming self-employed (Autonomo) and working for yourself, which is something many expats choose to do. If you have a skill that you can offer or a business idea, then this may be the right path for you.
You can find further information on being self-employed in Spain via our article at http://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/expat-tips/359-registering-as-self-employed-autonomo-in-spain.html
How Will Brexit Affect The Spanish Job Market?
Although the Brexit negotiations are currently in full swing, it's impossible to know just how the UK leaving the EU will affect those looking to make the move and find work in Spain. It may mean that those outside of the EU looking for work will have to obtain a work and residence visa as is the case at the time of writing for those coming from outside the EU.
Updated: December 06, 2022 CET
September 22, 2023
Updated: April 23, 2018 CET