· 1 min read · Features

A postcard from... Spain


Our 'postcard from' series keeps you updated on key HR areas in different countries

Economic briefing

The Spanish economy is the fifth-largest in Europe. However, the financial crisis of 2007 hit Spain hard; resulting in a strong economic downturn, an increase in unemployment, and bankruptcy of major companies.

This crisis inflamed calls for Catalonia, a wealthy region, to become independent. However, it remains unrecognised by the Spanish government and other countries.

A report by the European Commission in November warned that the country is the worst performer in the union for income inequality, with the richest 20% of households in the country receiving an income 6.5 times that of the poorest 20%, compared to an average of 5.1 times across the union.


Spain is made up of 19 autonomous communities, the most populated of which is Andalusia, and the least the tiny island of Ceuta.

As of 2014 there were more than 5,023,487 foreign-born people in Spain, which represents around 10.7% of the total population. Substantial foreign nationalities include Romanians, Moroccans, Ecuadorians and Italians, and the country is home to one of the largest British-born populations outside the UK.

Legal lowdown

As of July 2017 the minimum wage in Spain is $825.65 per month. It is revised each year by the government, taking into account productivity and employment levels. Failure to adhere to these regulations could see employers investigated and fined.

Working hours should average 40 hours per week maximum, calculated on an annual basis.

Workers who are responsible for a child under six, people with disabilities, or those with family members in certain circumstances are entitled to a reduction in their working day, along with a proportional reduction in wages.

From the HR frontline

David Frost, organisational development director at Total Produce, told HR magazine that you should pay particular attention to which region in Spain you will be operating in. “Unlike the UK, in Spain the contract will vary depending on what region you are based in,” he says. “This adds an additional layer of complexity.”

Culturally there are differences too. “When you go to see your Spanish colleagues they will always make time to engage socially,” Frost says. “Just interacting over the course of a meeting is not enough to build a relationship. You need to spend some time face-to-face discussing life outside of business.

“You also won’t see someone eating at their desk,” he adds. “Spanish people value personal time and will ensure they sit somewhere else to eat.”