Unemployment Benefits in Spain

I have worked for 10 years in Spain in the real estate business for a local agency. It took me around 3 months to find a job, and in Spain, things are extremely different to England when it comes to unemployment benefits.

For the main reason: You have to have had a job to claim unemployment benefit.

In short, you cannot leave school at 16 and sign on the dole, it is not a possibility, you must work before you are entitled to claim benefits.

So you might say, what if a young person can’t find work. The result is most young people still live at home until they are around 30 in Spain, and always until they are employed. Parents can claim child benefits for children up to 25, although they are extremely minimal amounts and do not even start to compare with tax credit systems etc in the UK.

Spain is a race of two things: Close knit families and hard workers. Correct in both senses although there are exceptions to the rules, and if you have children, especially if you are a single mother, things are coming more into line with the UK and you will be able to claim benefits without working, by assisting visits with a social worker – a long process… The Spanish government does not like to give money away to people who don’t work, they will send you for a weekly red cross parcel and to the local church for clothes, and to your local social services offices for nappies and milk before they will give you money, although perseverance pays off. The amount given to people in this type of situation is around 430€ a month, regardless of if you have 1, 2 or more children, and if you can prove that you are not paid maintenance by the father of your children, you may be paid an extra benefit of around 25€ a month, paid twice yearly.

When you loose your job in Spain

When you loose your job in Spain, it depends on how long you worked for the company, what type of contract you had, what benefits you may claim.

If you had a “lifetime” contract, then your boss will have to have a good reason for dismissing you and will not be able to replace you by someone else to do the same job. They will have to give you a substantial redundancy sum, and from there on, for every year you worked, you are entitled to 4 months of “full dole” This figure is 70% of your wage ( what was officially on your wage slip). After 6 months this automatically drops to 60%, and once your period of dole is up, you can claim 6 months of family benfit “ayuda famila” or 18 months if you have children. This is a standard amount of 430€ a month, regardless of how much you earned before, or how many children you have.

Whilst you are on the dole, you must sign on once every 3 months, and this can now even be done on-line. You maybe phoned for job offers, and interviews to attend, but this does not happen very regularly should we say.

Due to the recession, the government have now offered a new benefit, again of around 430€ a month for people who have ended up without any benefits left to claim (i.e their ayuda famila ran out) This is not a benefit for people who have never worked.

If your contract was semi permanent “fijo discontinuo” depending on how many months you worked, you can again claim dole, or “ayuda” You will be given a leaving payment and your boss can take you back on when he feels there is enough work load.

Another type of contract is ” final de obra” This literally means that when there’s no more work, its’ goodbye. Same applies, depending how many months you worked, which benefit you are entitled to. You will be given a leaving payment and paid any untaken holidays etc.

When your contract was for a fixed temporary amount of time, that time being less than one year in all cases, you are entitled to 6 months “ayuda” or 18 months if you have children.

The minimum you must have worked to claim “ayuda” is 6 months for someone with no children, 3 months for someone with children. So it is not uncommon for seasonal workers on the Costas to be collecting benefits in 2 countries simultaneously, as this is obviously very hard to control. also important that if your contract was part time, you will get paid half of the “ayuda”.

When you finish your job, go to your job centre “INEM” ( or “oficina de empleo”) the name varies depending on which part of Spain you live in as soon as possible. If you leave it more than 15 days, you loose entitlement, you cannot however go until you have used up any paid holiday days. You will queue for varying amounts of time, fill in preliminary forms, and then given another date to come back, normally to fill in your curriculum, and discuss what job you are seeking, as well as returning your filled in forms (photocopy everything you can think of at least 3 times, as even though they have photocopiers, they will not photocopy anything for you if it was on your list that you had to do yourself!)

Generally, the process is quite quick now, payment is monthly on the tenth of the month, and unless you happen to catch a very busy period, or the period over Xmas holidays for example, you will not wait more than 1 month to receive payment.

One last note: If you were self employed and you lost your business, you are entitled to nothing. I don’t understand this, as while you have your own business, you are paying national insurance. So beware, your staff can end up better off than you if you loose your business… a sobering thought!