Labour Law in Spain: provisions on working hours and public holidays

Companies wishing to operate in Spain must be aware of the generally applicable labour law provisions on working hours and public holidays. The most relevant are summarised hereafter:

Minimum rest and maximum working hours

The maximum legal working hours in Spain are generally 9 hours per day (maximum 40 hours per week). The calculation of the maximum working hours is an annual average calculation, which means, the working hours may be irregularly distributed throughout the year, by agreement in the employment contract, subject to minimum rest periods.

The weekly minimum rest of an employee must be at least 1.5 consecutive days. Normally, this includes Sunday (all day) and Saturday afternoon or Monday morning. There must be a rest period of at least 12 hours between the end and the beginning of a new working shift.

Calculation example:

An employee works regularly 8 hours a day. His minimum weekly rest period (1.5 days) is one full working day (8 hours) + half a working day (4 hours).

That means, the employee works on Saturday morning from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm (4 hours). He gets the Saturday afternoon (4 hours) and the following Sunday completely (8 hours) free and gets back to work on the following Monday at 10:00 am.

Annual leave and public holidays

The employee is entitled to a paid annual leave of at least 30 calendar days. The annual leave must be considered as holiday and may not be remunerated. The employee is also entitled to 14 paid public holidays per year. There are 12 national and 2 local public holidays. The official national public holidays throughout Spain are:

1st of January: New Year’s Day19th of April: Good Friday
1st of May: Labour Day15th of August: Assumption Day
12th of October: Day of Hispanic1st of November: All Saints’ Day
6th of December: Constitution Day25th of December: Christmas Day

To these national public holidays, which are valid throughout whole Spain, 4 additional national public holidays, which vary according to the autonomous community have to be added. Each municipality in Spain determines 2 additional local public holidays. These can vary greatly from one community to another. Only in the autonomous region of Madrid there are around 182 local communities, each of which has independently defined 2 local public holidays. If a local public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the municipality has the right to postpone the holiday to the following Monday. Despite the employee´s general entitlement to public holidays, the company may in certain cases, agree with the employee to work on public holidays for an additional payment.

Overtime hours in Spain

An employee has to do a yearly maximum of 80 overtime hours, which have to be remunerated or compensated with free time. The yearly maximum does not apply to overtime hours to which the employee is obliged in extraordinary, urgent cases (e.g. accidental damages). The remuneration for overtime hours must be higher than the wage of a normal working hour. There is no official approval needed for overtime work. However, the company has to keep record of the overtime hours and has to display them in the employee´s payroll. The workers’ council – if available- has to be informed monthly. Since the 12th of May of 2019 the Law 08/2019 on Working Hours Registration is applicable to record working and overtime hours in Spain.


Once a company carries out business in Spain and in that course sends employees or hires employees in Spain, it must comply with the applicable labour law provisions on working hours and public holidays in Spain. Companies have to be aware of the Spanish Law 45/1999 (Ley 45/1999, de 29 de noviembre) and, when indicated, of the Spanish collective agreement applicable to the particular industry (convenio laboral aplicable). These provisions may also be applicable if the company operates just temporarily in Spain.

Miriam Klügel

For further information regarding labour law provisions in Spain,

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

Related Articles