Common practices that employers routinely use with their employees even though they are completely illegal

In Spain the official unemployment rate is sky high, although the actual percentage of unemployed is probably much lower due to those who work outside of the system, cash in hand, which is illegal, and offers no protection for the worker or contributions to the social security or the tax office.

Many people believe that if they don´t heed their bosses’ every demand, they will lose their employment and be replaced by one of the so many out there who are desperate to work.

What are the common practices that employers routinely use with their employees even though they are completely illegal or in a legal limbo at best?

  • Employees without a contract: the employer pays the employee cash in hand, without paying any of the costs of the social security which doesn´t give the employee the security of knowing the duration of his or her employment, the right to receive money from the government at the end of the employment, or the right to sick leave or maternity pay and of course, no contribution is made towards old age pension.
  • The 20-40-60 contract: The employee’s contract states that they work 20 hours a week, however they are paid for 40 hours and end up working 60 hours a week. In reality the Employer is saving costs with the Spanish social security by not offering the employee a full contract. The employee will only receive the government benefits for the 20 hours on his contract in the case of illness or unemployment, this as you can imagine is illegal.
  • Working outside of office hours: there are some circumstances where your employer could legally ask you to work outside of your stipulated work hours; however these must be either paid separately or compensated by giving the employee time off. The employee is always allowed to choose which retribution he or she prefers. The legal limit is 80 extra hours per employee per year. 
  • If the employee is constantly performing tasks that are above his job description despite being in a lower category “on paper” for a period longer than 6 months, the employee can ask for a promotion.
  • Employee Availability : If the company constantly demands the employee be available out of working hours, the employee has the right to receive an availability bonus. In the case that this is not contemplated in the collective agreement of the activity, the employee can reply to reasonable emails or phone calls, but the employer has no right to demand this and cannot sanction his employee for not complying.
  • Holidays: Depending on the type of contract the employee has he/ she will be entitled to 30 natural or working days holiday (approximately 2.5 days per month). These holidays by law cannot be substituted for extra pay. There are also occasions due to personal circumstances for example when the employee gets married, or a relative is taken ill or dies that he or she is entitled to extra paid time off.

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