All about holiday pay in Spain

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez
April 12, 2021

When you move abroad to Spain, there is a lot to juggle. Language learning makes daily life a bit more difficult than back home. The laws are different. A job in Barcelona won’t have the same holiday pay rules as a job in Manchester, even if you are employed by UK companies in Spain. Still, jobs in Spain are rewarding because the best way to learn Spanish is by immersion. So prepare for your Spanish immersion experience by learning the Spanish work laws. Here are the basics of holiday pay in Spain.

Holiday pay in Spain

Have you read our tips for moving to Spain already? If so, you’ve considered your visa, insurance, and other official paperwork. Last week we learned about sick pay in Spain. This week, we will focus on holiday pay and the rights of UK citizen working in Spain. 

Qualifications for holiday pay in Spain

Spain, as part of the EU, has paid holiday coverage. This means that full-time and part-time workers are entitled to a number of paid days off each year to use as they please. 

Non-holiday related paid leave is available for major life events such as maternity/paternity leave at birth, marriage, moving house, jury duty, breastfeeding, and illness. These should not reduce the holiday allotment.

FAQ about holiday pay in Spain

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQ) about holiday pay in Spain. Remember to check this information with your specific employer.

How many days off or holidays are you entitled to in Spain?

Full-time employees in Spain get a minimum of 22 working days (30 consecutive calendar days including weekends) per year. One holiday period must be two weeks long at least. This is often compulsory, set during winter. The rest can be divided up as you please. 

Workers also have the right to leave on all ten Spanish national holidays each year. In most regions of Spain there are additional local holidays, which you are entitled to as well. 

Is paid sick leave better in the UK or Spain?

It depends. According to USA Today, Spain is among the most generous EU countries when it comes to holiday pay (along with France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, and Austria). The UK gets 28 holidays with 8 public (bank) holidays. Spain gets only 22 days of paid leave but has 10-18 public holidays per region. That often adds up to more paid time off in Spain.

How much holiday pay will I receive?

You are entitled to 100% of your salary. On holidays, you will receive the same full-pay amount as a normal work day. This includes outstanding salary components linked to performance.

How to prepare to move to Spain

How long do I have to use holiday pay in Spain?

Your annual holiday time must be taken in the year it is accrued. You have until 15 January to use it or it will be lost. There are legal circumstances with further leniency on that timeline, such as when annual holiday and sick leave happened at the same time. 

Do employers legally have to pay holiday pay?

Yes. The holiday pay laws in Spain are governed by EU regulations. The European Commission publishes guides to temporary incapacity in Spain on their Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion website

Useful vocabulary for holiday pay in Spain

To talk to your boss about holiday, brush up on your Spanish days of the week. Here is more useful vocabulary for conversations about paid holiday leave in Spain.

  • vacaciones – holiday/vacation
  • viajar – to travel
  • vuelo – flight
  • ida y vuelta – return trip (literally “go and come back”)
  • año nuevo – new year
  • fiesta – festival/holiday
  • día libre/ día de descanso/ día feriado – day off
  • el sueldo – salary (typically EUR/month in Spain)
  • pedir permiso – to ask permission
  • permisos retrubuidos/pagados – paid leave

Learn Spanish for work

Obviously, you can best navigate any issue of holiday pay in Spain by learning Spanish. With multiple regional languages in Spain, Spanish is your true starting point. If you gain enough Spanish to carry a conversation, you can chat directly with HR and get specific answers from Spanish or English companies in Spain. Check out our job-hunting phrases in Spanish and see if you can get an expat job in Spain. Maybe take all 22 days off in Barcelona! 

Prepare to work abroad in Spain by practising basic Spanish conversation. Register for a 7-day free trial with Lingoda today.