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Traditionally, Spain was considered a pro-employee jurisdiction, although since 2010 the government has passed a number of amendments to Spanish employment and labor laws that have substantially favored employers. The most significant set of amendments in 2012 substantially lowered severance costs, increased the employer’s rights to modify existing employment conditions (including previously agreed salary, job duties and job location) and curtailed the power of unions in negotiating collective bargaining agreements.

Faced with severe financial difficulties since 2010, Spain’s unemployment grew steadily from 8.26% in 2006 to a high of almost 25.8% throughout most of 2012 and 2013. Since 2014, unemployment has been on a slow decline but in the third quarter of 2015 is still just over 21%. As a result of the financial and real estate crisis, pro employer legal amendments and unemployment, average salaries in Spain have dropped by anywhere from 10% to 20% since 2010. Cheaper salaries and an available workforce, coupled with generally favorable legal trends, have made Spain a much more pro-employer jurisdiction over the last few years.

This guide is intended to provide employers and human resources professionals with a comprehensive overview of the key aspects of Spanish employment law. It covers the entire life-cycle of the employment relationship from hiring through to termination, with information on working terms and conditions, family rights, personnel policies, workplace safety and discrimination. The guide links to our global handbooks, which include information for Spain on immigration, data privacy, trade unions and works councils. The guide also contains information on the employment implications of share and asset sales. Save where otherwise indicated, law and practice are stated in this guide as at April 2017.

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