Hiring Remote Workers in Spain: A Guide for US Employers

Looking to hire remotely in Spain? Spain and the United States vary in working culture and employment regulations. As a US employer, all your questions on how to hire, pay, and support your remote employees in Spain are answered in this guide.

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For starters, the Spanish working culture embraces work-life balance to a higher degree than their US counterparts. US employers may have heard of the ‘siestas’ that used to thrive in Spain, which essentially means a long afternoon break where employees could go home for hours before returning to work. In a globalized society and international competition, siestas are not as widely practiced in cities but are still the norm in more rural areas. Even if siestas are not practiced in the area your employee works in, lunch breaks are longer than the US at about two hours, and early finishes on Friday afternoons are also not peculiar. This is in contrast to the US where lunch breaks are strictly an hour and it is not unusual to eat at one’s desk by themselves. US employers should not assume that Spanish employees are not as hard-working as US employees because of their long lunch breaks, as working until 8 pm is also not uncommon. Deadlines are also slightly more relaxed in Spain than they are in the US, so the US employer will need to make it clear that the deadlines for projects are strict and cannot be extended. 

Many younger Spanish people can speak English, but the same cannot be said for the older generation. Nevertheless, in a business context, it is reasonable to assume that international negotiations are conducted in English. If you have learned Spanish, keep in mind that there are different dialects across the country, so even though speaking the language will be highly appreciated, it may not be grammatically correct to your employee. Spanish people, in general, are also more emotive in conversation in contrast to the US, so strong displays of emotion should not be perceived as theatrical, but rather a cultural difference in strong communication skills. 

Spanish workers value relationships with their employers, with trust and a good first impression, both critical in business culture. US employers will benefit from making time before and after meetings to answer any questions their Spanish employees may have. 

The time in Madrid is 9 hours ahead of the west coast and 6 hours ahead of the east coast. 

It is easier to communicate between those on the east coast and their Spanish employees than on the west coast. The start of the working day for those on the east coast will overlap with the end of the working day for those in Spain. On the west coast, communication will be possible if the employee in Spain is willing to stay back, or if the US employer has an early start. 

US employers should also make themselves familiar with the collective agreement that is relevant to the company’s area of work. Collective agreements are considered to be legitimate employment law and come into force automatically in individual employment relations. 

A Spanish employee is usually only permitted to work 9 hours a day, 40 hours a week unless there is either a collective agreement or an agreement between the employer and the employee’s representative that outlines a different arrangement of working hours. Employees must also have a 12-hour break between their shifts. 

If an employee works overtime, employers need to provide time in rest or pay for the overtime worked, pending on what was agreed in the collective agreement or employment contract. The maximum amount of overtime hours allowed by Spanish law is 80 hours

It is also a requirement by law to submit a timesheet to the employer, but most employers do it on the employee’s behalf. This is recommended so that the employer will immediately have them available if the employment authorities ask for the hours worked.

Common jobseeker websites a US employer can use to hire Spanish employees are LinkedIn and InfoJobs. Though LinkedIn is universal, InfoJobs is more specific to the Spanish and European region. 

Similar to most countries, remote workers are interviewed via online platforms such as Skype or Zoom. Giving references is not a common practice in Spain, so the US employer may need to ask them for references upon the interview. 

Spanish people usually put profile photos on their resumes. European resumes are also a lot longer than US resumes. Whereas US resumes aim for one page, European resumes do not have a strict page limit. 

Legally, a written or oral contract is both allowed, but a written contract is more common.

A US employer can either offer an indefinite contract or a temporary contract. As the name suggests, a temporary contract is for a set period of time, and an indefinite contract has no official end date.

For more information, please click here.

In Spain, the employer is responsible for the employee’s social security deductions, and employers also withhold a percentage of the pay for the employee’s income tax...read more

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Tim Burgess

Director, Shield GEO Services Ltd

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