At Work in Barcelona

Social Security in Barcelona

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Spain has a network of services that provide for it's people. This includes people living and working there, and their dependents. The system, Seguridad Social, includes:

  • Healthcare System
  • Pension System
  • Unemployment Benefits
  • Sick Pay
  • Maternity Pay

The countries in the European Union and European Economic Area has an agreement to ensure international employees retain their social security rights and benefits. The provisions ensure that no employee is disadvantaged because he worked in several Member States during the course of his working life. Social insurance contributions should not be lost, rights which have been acquired should be protected, and each country should pay the pension which corresponds to the insurance periods spent there.


Anyone working in Spain is automatically registered with the social security system by their employer. Contributions are paid directly from the wages, usually every month.

The self-employed are required to register themselves at the local Social Security office. A gestor (official agent) is extremely useful in setting up the payment and benefit plan. The minimum monthly contribution for the self employed in Spain is currently 225 euro per month.

NIE Number

A worker needs to first register for their NIE number before being able to buy property, a car, sign-up for insurance, enter into a contract for the supply of electricity, water or a telephone line, or contribute to social security. The NIE number, Número de Identificación de Extranjero, is a tax identification number.

    To register:
  • Get a form at the nearest National Police Station in the Departmento de Extranjeros (Foreigners Department). There can be long lines, so try to arrive early. Call for more information, Tel. Tel: (+34) 952 923 058
  • Supply documentation of passport and photocopy, address in Spain written justification of why you need the NIE (issued by an accountant, a notary, a bank manager, an insurance agent a future employer, etc.)

Upon submitting an application, you will receive a stamped photocopy of the application and your passport will be returned. Applicants should receive their NIE from one to six weeks. Notification of an issuance of a number is not automatic, inquire directly with the office to find out when it is available.

In the past, many people avoided registering for a number and contributing to the system, but this has been corrected by the many necessary services that now require everyone to have a number.

Claiming Benefits

The amount of pension or benefit you receive depends on the level of contributions paid. If you have been paying minimum social security contributions, the benefits are around 750 euro per month.

Sickness Insurance

Subsidio de Incapacidad temporal (IT) offers temporary disability benefit and covers lack of income arising when an employee is temporarily unable to work. If a workers is sick, they must go to a health center for a doctor to evaluate their fitness to work. If the doctor finds them unable, they give them a parte de baja (sick note) to submit for at least 60 percent of the workers's average income.

The company normally pays the worker a temporary incapacity allowance, which Social Security repays to the company. The maximum duration is 18 months, after which the situation is reviewed.

Family & Maternity Leave

Maternity leave is for 16 weeks, four of which may be taken before the birth. Financial benefits are available for expectant families in the form of a 100 percent subsidy. The father is eligible for leave at the regular rate income for 13 days.

Family benefits cover the financial need or excess costs related to family responsibilities and the birth of children. It is not necessary to have paid into any scheme to be eligible for these payments. The amount is variable, depending on:

  • Number of dependent children
  • Whether or not the family is a large or single parent family
  • Extent of the child's disability
  • Income of the family unit

Update 17/10/2011


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