Vacation days in Spain: What does the Law say?

Discover how many vacation days you are entitled to per year, the difference between work days and natural days, and other frequently asked questions.

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The holidays are probably the most anticipated time of the year. It doesn’t matter if it’s to visit family, travel to the other side of the world, spend afternoons on the beach or relax at home with that book you’ve been waiting for. However, when requesting these vacation days, there are many doubts. 

In this post, we explain what the Law says about vacation days in Spain, what the difference is between work days and calendar days and how to calculate them. Are you interested in this topic? Keep reading! 

The Workers’ Statute on Vacation Days 

In Spain, the regulation of working holidays is established mainly by Article 38 of the Workers’ Statute. These are five key points that you should know, according to the law: 


Workers have the right to a minimum period of paid annual leave of 30 calendar days. This is the minimum established by law, but collective agreements may establish longer periods. 

Determination of the period of enjoyment 

The period of enjoyment will be set by agreement between the employer and the worker, as established in their collective agreement on annual vacation planning. In case of disagreement, the worker and the employer can go to the social jurisdiction to determine the vacation period. 

Setting the calendar 

The vacation calendar must be set in each company. The worker must know the dates that correspond to him at least two months in advance of the beginning of the enjoyment. 


If the employment contract begins or ends during the year, the worker will be entitled to a proportional part of the vacation according to the time worked during that year. 

Vacations and special situations 

If the vacation period coincides with a temporary disability due to contingencies other than those mentioned above that make it impossible for the worker to enjoy them totally or partially during the calendar year to which they correspond, the worker may do so once his disability ends and provided that no more than eighteen months from the end of the year in which they originated. 

In the case of maternity leave, paternity leave, risk during pregnancy, or risk during breastfeeding, the worker has the right to enjoy them in a different period, even if the calendar year to which they correspond has ended. 

What is the difference between business days and calendar days? 

In the work context, it is important to distinguish between working days and calendar days, as this difference can affect the calculation of vacation daysCalendar days are all those on the calendar, Monday to Sunday, including holidays. Meanwhile, weekdays are those that are usually worked, generally excluding weekends and holidays. In most cases, Monday through Friday are considered business days. 

Now, if you are going to ask for vacation days you have to look at how they are expressed in the contract. If they are on calendar days and you have 30 days of vacation, you can be off work for a full month including weekends and holidays.  

On the other hand, if the vacations are expressed in working days and you have 22 days of vacation, you can enjoy this number of days, but only counting from Monday to Friday and excluding holidays.  

Learn how to calculate vacation days into workdays 

To calculate vacations in working days, a process is followed that generally involves converting calendar days to working days, given that many collective agreements stipulate vacations in working days. But let’s see it in practice. 

The first thing is to calculate the total working days. A year has 365 days (366 in a leap year). Next, we subtract the number of weekends (Saturdays and Sundays): 52 weeks x 2 days = 104 days (or 105 days in a leap year). If there are national, regional or local holidays, they are also subtracted. Let’s assume there are 14 holidays in total. The result is 247 working days per year.  

Now, let’s take the case of someone who started working from January to June. You have to calculate the days that he has been in the company. In this case we divide the 6 months by the twelve of the entire year, and we multiply the result by 247 (of the working days per year). We obtain that he has worked a total of 123.5 days.  

Finally, you must know proportionally how many days you have on vacation. To do this, we divide the number of days worked (123.5) by the working days of the year (247). We then multiply all this by 22, which is usually the number of vacation days per year that collective agreements include. The formula is: (123.5/247)*22. If we do the calculation, the worker has the right to 11 working days of vacation

Can you replace vacation time with paid work days? 

We already told you that no. In Spain, according to the Workers’ Statute, it is not allowed to replace paid annual vacations with financial compensation, except in the case of the termination of the employment contract. Annual vacations are an inalienable right of workers and cannot be replaced by financial compensation even with the worker’s consent. 

This measure aims to ensure that workers enjoy adequate rest and regain strength, which is beneficial for both their personal well-being and their work performance

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