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WORKING IN SPAIN

Spain’s government eyes €31 minimum wage rise to €996

Spain’s left-wing coalition government has proposed raising the minimum wage for the second time in the last six months to almost €1,000 in 14 payments, a move that could benefit 2 million people in the country. 

spain minimum wage
Despite job insecurity, Spain has the seventh highest minimum wages in the EU. Photo: Josep Lago

Spain’s second deputy prime minister and Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz is pushing for the country’s minimum wage – el Salario Mínimo Interprofesional (SMI) – to be increased again. 

“What would I like? For there to be a minimum wage of €1,000,” she told journalists on Monday.

Díaz did not disclose the exact salary increase but the head of top Spanish workers’ union UGT, Mari Cruz Vicente, has revealed the exact figures proposed by the Unidas Podemos politician.

The increase would be of €31 from the current €965 to €996. This would apply to full-time work contracts, it refers to a gross amount (pre-tax) and it would be paid in 14 different payments as is the standard in Spain. 

The draft decree will first have to be debated by business associations, unions and members of the Spanish cabinet to ensure the minimum wage rise actually comes into force. 

Last September, the Spanish Council of Ministers approved a €15 rise in el salario mínimo from €950 to €965, a bill which was again spearheaded by Yolanda Díaz.

“There’s no better weapon in the fight against poverty than this,” Díaz argued, who also defended “raising wages in general”.

This previous rise in minimum wages in Spain resulted in the increase of €8 in social security contributions for the country’s self-employed workers up to €294 a month, a figure that could increase further still for many under new plans to raise rates based on real earnings.  

Even though job insecurity and unemployment remain relatively high in Spain, the country has the seventh highest minimum wage rate in the EU. 

The gross amount of €1,126, which is the equivalent of €965 but in twelve payments a year, is higher than Italy’s or Greece’s minimum wage but considerably lower than France’s (€1,603/month), Germany’s (€1,621), Belgium’s (€1,658), the Netherlands’ (€1,725) or Ireland’s (€1,775). 

The Spanish government on Thursday managed to pass a long-awaited labour reform aimed at ending rampant job insecurity with a majority of just one, but it has emerged that a PP deputy accidentally voted for the legislation and in doing so tipped the balance in favour of the government.

This will also lead to a salary increase for some 73,000 workers in Spain who belong to multi-service companies that offer cleaning, gardening, maintenance and other services.

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LABOUR RIGHTS

EU rules Spain’s treatment of domestic workers is discriminatory

European Union judges on Thursday ruled that there is no valid reason for Spain not to offer domestic workers in the country the right to unemployment benefits as is the case for other contract employees. 

EU rules Spain's treatment of domestic workers is discriminatory

The Court of Justice of the European Union on Thursday February 24th ruled that the Spanish system is discriminatory against its domestic workers, contrary to EU laws and indirectly sexist in that it particularly affects women.

“This exclusion entails a greater lack of social protection for domestic employees, which translates into a situation of social abandonment,” the high court statement published on Thursday reads.

Although the ruling is non-binding, it’s a win for domestic workers in Spain who for decades have been forgotten by authorities and usually forced to work in the underground economy.

The decision by the EU courts follows an appeal in 2019 by a domestic worker in Spain who wished to contribute taxes towards future unemployment benefits, only for the country’s Social Security agency to reject her request under the premise that Spanish law doesn’t allow it.

In 2011, Spain approved the current special regime for domestic workers, which recognised some labour rights such as access to sick leave but continued to deny other basic worker benefits such as unemployment payments.

Despite this, a third of the 536,100 domestics (mostly foreign women) who work in Spain are still not signed up to Spain’s social security system, according to the country’s 2021 Labour Force Survey. Two out of every three have earnings around the minimum wage bracket.

READ ALSO: What changed for families who have a domestic worker or cleaner in Spain in 2021

In February 2021, Spain’s Labour Ministry sent out around 45,000 letters to households with empleadas del hogar (domestic workers) warning them that they have to properly register their employees in Spain’s social security system and make the right contributions (cotizaciones), as well as ensuring they are paying them at least the minimum wage.

It’s not the first time the Court of Justice of the European Union calls out Spain’s labour laws as discriminatory as in 2012 they ruled that access to Spain’s more generous contributory pension system indirectly discriminated against women as there are a far higher number of women in part-time jobs in the country.

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