Can I work more than 40 hours a week in Spain?

Find out what the consequences of working more than 40 hours a week can be for the company and under which exceptions this is legal.

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In Spain, working hours are regulated by the Workers’ Statute, approved by Royal Legislative Decree 2/2015 of 23 October.

One of the most important regulations concerns the maximum working hours, which is generally set at 40 hours per week.

However, it is important to note that there are exceptions and cases in which it is possible to work more than 40 hours per week in Spain, as long as certain requirements are met and workers’ rights are respected.

How many hours can be worked per week at the most?

The question of working hours or the working day is regulated by the Workers’ Statute and, specifically, by Article 34. According to current legislation, the duration of the working day will be agreed in collective agreements or employment contracts and will be a maximum of 40 hours per week of effective work on average per year.

In this way, it is most common to find working hours of 8 hours a day, spread over five days a week, a regular distribution known as a full working day, although there are jobs and situations in which more hours are worked, as the working day is divided irregularly.

In this respect, current legislation stipulates that the number of ordinary working hours may not exceed 9 hours a day, “unless a collective agreement or, failing that, an agreement between the company and the workers’ representatives establishes a different distribution of daily working time, respecting in all cases the rest between working days” (Article 34 E.T.).

In addition, it states that workers must have an effective rest period of at least 12 hours between shifts. These hours begin to be measured from the end of one working day and the beginning of the next.

In addition, it should be noted that:

  • There are limits for workers under the age of 18 who may not work more than 8 hours a day.
  • Each activity can have different adaptations, which are special working days.
  • Companies can make the necessary adaptations in favour of work-life balance.
  • There are also stricter limits for night work and shift work.

What happens if you work more than 40 hours a week?

First of all, you should always consult your collective agreement and check what the maximum working hours are. But it is clear that if you work more than 40 hours a week and the company is not paying you overtime, nor is it compensating you for the extra hours worked with rest breaks, you will be working excessively long hours.

With regard to overtime, our legislation is also very clear on this issue. Article 35 of the Workers’ Statute states that overtime is always voluntary and cannot exceed 80 hours per year. There is one exception and it has to do with the need to work overtime to repair urgent damage.

What happens if I have two 40-hour-a-week jobs?

The case of multi-employed workers deserves a separate mention because in Spain there is no restriction that prevents a person from having a second job, with two contracts in two different companies, for 80 hours a week. In other words, two working days of 8 hours each, in total, 16 hours.

In this case, however, employees will have to inform both the Social Security and the companies that they have two different jobs, as there is a contribution ceiling. This ceiling is set at 4,139.40 euros, which is the maximum for which an employee can pay social security contributions.

What happens if I work more than 50 hours a week?

As I indicated at the beginning, the maximum working hours in Spain is 40 hours. Therefore, if the collective agreement does not say otherwise, by working 50 hours a week we will be working an additional 10 hours, which will have to be compensated, either through overtime pay or through breaks.

In conclusion, Spanish law states that no more than 40 hours per week should be worked. However, any time worked in excess (a maximum of 80 hours per year) has to be compensated as overtime, either financially or with breaks, within a maximum period of four months.

In any case, you should always check what the collective agreement says and understand that certain sectors, such as the hotel and catering or health sector, may have more irregular dynamics.

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