Hiring disabled workers is mandatory in Spain

According to the General Law on rights of persons with disabilities and their social integration, companies that have had an average of 50 or more employees in the last 12 months are required to hire at least 2% of workers with disabilities (with an equal to or higher than 33% degree disability).

This calculation is made on the total workforce of the company, regardless of the number of work centres the company has or the recruitment process.

However, there is the possibility that, in exceptional cases, companies can be totally or partially exempt from this obligation. The exemption applies either by agreements reached through sectoral collective bargaining or by the voluntary choice of the employer, which must be duly notified to the labour authorities, and provided that in both cases the alternative options identified by regulation are applied.

Exemption from the obligation of hiring

A company that wishes to be exempted from the obligation must expressly apply to the SEPE (Public State Employment Service), certifying in its request the following circumstances:

  • The company has presented a job offer to this group of people with the SEPE, describing the type of work that is needed, and the agency has found no suitable candidates or interested persons
  • There are productive, organizational, technical or economic reasons that hinder the employment of people with disabilities (e.g. in the company there are dangerous work conditions due to which the work cannot be performed by this group of people). In such case, the company should submit a report explaining the reasons, and it is very likely that an inspection will be held to check them.

Alternative options

After completing the application, the SEPE will have two months to reply. Failure to respond within that period shall be considered an approval of the application through administrative silence. The exemption shall be valid for three years, after which the company must again begin the exemption procedure and adopt one of the following options:

  • Holding a commercial or civil contract with a special employment centre, or a self-employed person with disabilities, to supply raw materials, machinery, equipment or other goods necessary for the normal development of the activity of the company that opts for this option
  • Holding a commercial or civil contract with a special employment centre, or a self-employed person with disabilities, for the provision of external services and accessories to normal activities of the company
  • The realization of donations and sponsorship activities, always monetary, for the development of employment activities and job creation for people with disabilities, where the beneficiary of such collaborative actions is a foundation or an association of public utility whose purpose is, among others, vocational training, job placement or job creation for persons with disabilities that allows job placement for those persons and finally their integration into the labour market
  • The establishment of a work enclave, after signing the corresponding contract with a special employment centre, in accordance with the provisions of Royal Decree 290/2004 (20 February 2004), which regulates work enclaves as a measure to promote employment of people with disabilities.

For further information on the mandatory employment of disabled workers in Spain,

Please note that this article is not intended to provide legal advice.

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