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Unemployment Benefits in Barcelona

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The Spanish economy has traditionally been weak and recent economic issues have further damaged the economy. The estimated unemployment is currently at 20.89 percent. The Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal (or SPEE), formerly known as INEM, manages the system.


In order to be eligible to receive unemployment benefits in Spain, a person must have been employed and paid contributions into the social security system. The amount of benefit received by unemployed workers varies depending on how long they were employed. Benefits are paid to those aged between 15 and 64.

In order to receive unemployment allowance, a person must be legally unemployed. This means an unemployed person is:

  • End (or authorized suspension) of employment
  • Temporary and authorized reduction of working hours
  • Spanish workers becoming unemployed abroad and returning to Spain
  • Release from prison when the sentence has been served or release is conditional
    For people who have worked for longer than one year, they must meet the following conditions:
  • They are legally unemployed
  • They register as a job seeker and sign an Activity Agreement
  • They are not over the usual age of retirement (65 years for men)
  • They worked for a minimum of 360 days in the previous six years
    Unemployed benefits are also available after working less than one year if they meet the additional conditions:
  • They have contributed at least three months of Social Security payments if they have family responsibilities, or six months of contributions if they do not
  • They do not have an income of more than 75 percent of the Minimum Professional Wage (El Salario Mínimo Interprofesional)

How to Register

In order to apply for unemployment benefits, the worker must present the following documents within 15 working days of becoming unemployed.

  • Completed application form - can be obtained at a provincial Public Employment Portal (Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal). The application includes information on dependant's and their incomes, bank account details and authorization to request information from EAT (Agencia Tributaria - tax office).
  • Company certificate - or certificates from the workers' employer from the previous six months
  • Identity documents - for the applicant and any children who are dependant and named on the application (either DNI or NIE)


The amount of benefit depends on the contributions paid to Social Security over the last 180 days. Beneficiaries are usually entitled to 70 percent of the reference salary. If the beneficiary has one or more children and the allowance falls below a predetermined rate, the amount due can go up to 80 percent.

Generally, benefits are paid monthly in advance for periods of six months at a time. Entitlement begins after a waiting period of five days of verified unemployment. The duration depends on the contribution period. For example, the minimum period of 12 months entitles workers to receive 4 months of unemployment benefit. The maximum period to receive contributive benefits is 24 months.

Along with providing financial benefits, Job Centers provide resources for job-hunters like training courses, language courses, etc.


The contributory scheme for Spain's social security takes funds from employees and employers. Contributions to the social security system begin as soon as employment begins. The employer pays a larger percentage than the worker.

Spain has bilateral Social Security agreements with Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada (except Quebec), Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Morocco, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Tunisia, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Update 17/10/2011


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