The contribution of interns in Spain will be obligatory

The contribution of interns to the Spanish General Social Security System in Spain is included in the new Royal Decree-Law 28/2018 of 28 December, approved by the Government with the support of the main trade unions, UGT and CC OO.

With the publication of the Royal Decree-Law 28/2018 of 28 December for the revaluation of public pensions and other urgent measures in social and labour matters, and specifically, the fifth provision, interns will be included in the General Social Security System, as equivalent to employed workers, excluding unemployment protection, the Salary Guarantee Fund (FOGASA) and professional training.

The Social Security contribution will be calculated applying the contribution rules corresponding to the contracts for training and apprenticeship, based on the provision of article 44 of the Order ESS/55/2018, of 26 January, which establishes the determination of the contributions for these contracts.

With the new regulations, it will be compulsory for companies to quote for those students who carry out external work experience in university degrees or master’s degrees, as well as in Vocational Training courses of medium and higher degree. The contribution covers both curricular practices (i.e. those that are compulsory as part of the study plan) and extracurricular practices, regardless of whether the internships are remunerated or not (until now there was only the obligation to contribute when the internships were remunerated).

The regulations do not establish differences in the case of agreements with Spanish or foreign universities, therefore and in the absence of an express distinction, it is understood that the obligations extends equally to both cases.

Nor does the law distinguish who is responsible for payment. However, following the negotiations and meetings between Conference of Spanish University Rectors (CRUE) and the ministries of Science, Innovation and Universities on the one hand and, Labour, Migration and Social Security on the other, the latter has undertaken that the measure will not entail an additional cost for universities. Negotiations continue, and it remains to be determined whether it will be the receiving companies and institutions that end up assuming the payment (as was the case until now in the case of remunerated internships), or whether, on the contrary, the contributions will be 100% subsidised, as is currently the case in some cases.

An estimated payment of around 50€ per month for each of the interns who do internships in the company, thus equating to the one already made by the companies for remunerated internships.

Procedure for registering interns with Social Security

By analogy, the same rules apply as for employees. Therefore, in accordance with article 139 of Spain’s General Law on Social Security, the employer, institution or entity where the practices will hold the obligation to affiliate workers who enter their service and who are not previously affiliated.

The procedure begins with the application for the Social Security number, either on the initiative of the citizen/student or on the initiative of the employer. After obtaining the number, the employer must fill in form TA1 and present it together with the student’s DNI, NIE or passport. The application and documentation can be submitted:

  • Face-to-face with the General Treasury of the Social Security or Administration of the student’s or company’s address
  • Online, accessing with a digital certificate the service of the Electronic Headquarters Assignment of Social Security number.

Entry into force

Initially, a period of 3 months from the entry into force of the law (January 2019) was foreseen. However, following different negotiations between the CRUE and the Ministries of Science, Innovation and Universities and Work, Migrations and Social Security, the Government gave a break to the Universities and Training centres, declaring that the obligation to contribute was not to enter into force until the 2019-2020 academic year. Currently and without stable government in the country, the norm is in stand-by.


With this new regulatory measure, the Government seeks to put order and control to the misuse given to date to this type of practice, ensuring that the tasks of students are truly formative and not of labour nature. Above all, in view of the recent cases uncovered and sanctioned by the Labour Inspectorate in which some companies turned to trainees to fill jobs that had nothing to do with their degrees.

The students will gain in social protection in case of accident at work, as well as in the accumulation of months contributed for their retirement. Companies will gain in transparency, and universities and training centres in efficiency.

However, in order to know on whom, the obligation of contribution of interns falls. it will be necessary to wait for Spain to have a stable government.

This article is not considered as legal advice

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