All about sick pay in Spain

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez
April 04, 2021
woman looking up sick pay in spanish

So you’ve got an opportunity to work abroad in Spain. Congratulations! Jobs in Spain are rewarding. The best way to learn Spanish is by immersion, so jobs for English speakers in Spain mean lots of practise to improve. Whether you get transferred by UK companies in Madrid or find a temporary holiday resort job in Barcelona, be sure to understand the legal aspects of the work. For starters, it’s good to understand Spain sick pay law before you get sick. Today we will go over the basics of sick pay in Spain.  

Coverage of sick pay in Spain

Let’s assume you’ve read our tips for moving to Spain already. You’ve already prepared for budgeting, visa applications, health insurance, and more. Now consider what happens if you get sick and can’t go to work.

If you fall ill while working in Spain, just as anywhere in the EU, you’re entitled to an allowance for temporary incapacity. The allowance applies to missing work for a “common illness or a non-occupational accident”. For example, if you play in an amateur Spanish football league and get an injury that puts you in hospital.  This requires a medical examination and certificate of illness.

Qualifications for Spanish sick pay

In order to receive the allowance, you must be registered with Spanish social security. You must also have 180 days of contribution. 

FAQ about sick pay in Spain

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQ) about sick pay in Spain. Remember to check this information with your employer. Also double-check the regional laws that govern sick leave in Spain, as autonomous regions may have slight differences.

Is paid sick leave better in the UK or Spain?

Spain. According to a 2016 report from Glassdoor, the least generous sick leave and pay allowance in the EU at the time was in the UK (28 weeks, flat rate of £88 a week). The most generous was the Netherlands (70% of salary, 104 weeks). Spain falls in the middle.

Will I get full pay when off sick?

You are entitled to 60% of your salary for days 4-20 of sick leave and 75% beyond that.

Do employers legally have to pay sick pay?

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

How many days do you get sick pay?

Spain’s allowance covers 365 days maximum and you can apply beginning three days after the accident. For belated medical recovery, you can apply for an extension of up to 180 days.

The contact number for sick pay in Spain with the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social (INSS) is listed as +34 915688300. See the INSS website for more information.

Useful vocabulary for sick pay in Spain

Here is some useful vocabulary for conversations about sick leave in Spain.

  • la enfermedad – sickness, illness
  • la remunarción – coverage pay, financial compensation
  • el sueldo – salary (typically EUR/month in Spain)
  • incapacidad temporal (“IT”) – temporary incapacity
  • licencia por enfermedad – sick leave (official title)
  • permisos/bajas por enfermedad – sick leave (permission)
  • subsidio/prestación de enfermedad – sick pay
  • permisos retrubuidos/pagados – paid leave
  • Servicio Público de Salud – State Health Services
  • Sistema Nacional de la Seguridad Social  – National Social Security System

Learn Spanish for work

Of course the ultimate way to navigate the sick pay system in Spain is to learn Spanish. There are regional languages in Spain, but Spanish is your starting point. With a conversational speaking level, you can ask questions with HR and local government offices once you’re there. 

To get ready, review vocabulary. Check out our blog post on job-hunting phrases in Spanish. Then read our posts about medical phrases to visit the pharmacist in Spain and how to register with a new doctor in Spain. These will help you prepare for Spanish conversations about paid sick leave with Spanish or English companies in Spain.

Work in Spain for English speakers and going to study abroad to learn Spanish are two incredible opportunities for Spanish immersion. If you can get an expat job in Spain and make it happen, go for it. Brush up on your Spanish, do your legal homework, and you will be prepared to work in Spain safely.   

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

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