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Working in Spain

Cafe Del Mar

Working in Spain in the heat of summer isn't like being on holiday. Working in summer on the Costas or Balearic Islands in tourism or hospitality involves long hours and few days off, but you could always have the winter off to recover! Non-seasonal jobs tend to be in cities or in areas where the favourable winter climate attracts tourists all year round.

Many British people want to escape to the sunshine coasts or "costas" of Spain, but the question of how to earn a living there often remains unanswered! Unless fortunate enough not to have to find work or of an age when work is optional, an income is desirable if not essential.

Like most of Europe, Spain is experiencing high unemployment, especially among young people. Finding employment from a distance is not always easy, especially in a country where word of mouth counts. If you are considering self employment or a new business venture, then it makes sense to have a business plan. Also consider implications such as tax and national insurance, residence aspects, and where to base your business. One source of information would be the book entitled, Living and Working in Spain by David Hampshire, but as always, do seek professional advice, essential if planning on starting a business in Spain.

EU Citizens

If you're a citizen of Europe, have a European or British passport or have been resident in Europe for at least five years, then you have the right to work in Spain. Nevertheless, it's worthwhile doing some homework before selling up and deciding to move to Spain! For example, some professions or occupations are regulated, as is the case in the UK, although to a lesser extent than in Spain. However, professions or occupations that are regulated in the UK may not be regulated in Spain and vice versa. This may affect you if you wish to carry on with your profession or occupation in Spain.

In order to broaden your chances of finding a job, it's a good idea to have your CV translated or better to prepare your CV in Spanish as well as in English. You can use the European CV template, which is free and available online in all European languages.

More sustainable jobs are likely to be found in the cities; jobs in the resorts can be seasonal, maybe OK if you're single, but perhaps not so good for people with families. Teaching English is a possibility anywhere in Spain, but for this type of work you generally need TEFL qualifications, although companies such as Vaughan Systems appear to prefer applicants with business experience, rather than with formal TEFL qualifications, and a positive, enthusiastic approach helps. The academic year runs from mid September until the following June, but teaching business English could involve opportunities for teaching work all year round. Opportunities could be freelance, which involves having to social security yourself (about 200 euros/month) or with an employment contract - better because the employer has to pay most of the social security for you. If you are offered a job working for an employer, make sure it comes with an employment contract. Working black for cash is illegal and definitely not recommended!

Any type of self employment in Spain involves having to pay a fair sum of money periodically in Spanish social security contributions. These contributions do provide insurance against being unable to work due to sickness or accident, and give automatic entitlement to the Spanish national health service. Employees pay much less in social security contributions as the employer pays the majority. Unemployed workers previously employed by employers have rights to contributory benefits for a limited period of time in the event of unemployment, sickness or accident and other risks. Until recently, social security contributions didn't cover unemployment risks for the self employed, but changes are being made to rectify this oversight! The Spanish Workers Law lays down employment rights, and self employment rights are laid down in the law for self employed workers. More information from Spanish trade unions is available online (in Spanish).

Non Spanish speakers will stand a far better chance of work in Spain by learning the language. If considering working in Barcelona, Catalan is spoken there so a knowledge of the Catalan language as well as Spanish should help tremendously.

Ideas for Work

Becoming a Holiday Rep.

You don't have to be young, but you have to be flexible enough to be able to work on a seasonal basis. A typical contract might last from April until October and then you re-apply for winter, which may be in an entirely different location or country. The major UK tour operators pay in sterling and if recruited in the UK, usually provide accommodation in resort, plus a small salary and commission on any excursions sold. Customer service skills essential and languages preferable.

Working in a bar

Be prepared to work very long hours for the minimum wage. Accommodation is sometimes provided, but this isn't the norm. Go at the beginning of the summer season and ask for work. Very competitive in places like Ibiza. Good luck!

Teaching English

Helps to have a TEFL certificate, degree and be a native speaker of English. Opportunities in private language schools, commercial organisations, and in private tutoring. Although it may be possible to obtain a teaching post without a TEFL qualification, the better paid and more secure posts require a recognised TEFL qualification, experience and sometimes a degree in linguistics.

Property Sales

Sales skills essential, foreign language skills and experience a bonus, especially in times of recession when buyers may not be flocking to Spain to buy property as they used to.

Did you know?

You can export contributory Job Seekers Allowance from the UK for up to 3 months, providing you register at the unemployment service in the area where you are staying in Spain within 7 days of arrival.

To live and work in Spain, you'll first need a NIE (Foreigners National ID). Applications can be made at police stations and foreigners offices in Spain or in advance at the Spanish Consulate offices in London or Manchester.