The Spanish Social Security system provides the basic social protection in the country. This system was integrated into Spain in 1883 as one of the laws of the Committee for Social Reform and has been improved to reflect the present day social security system.
The basic structure of the Social Security system in Spain has two schemes, one is referred to as the General Scheme, or the dependent worker scheme, and the other is a scheme for self-employed individuals. The general scheme requires all individuals to make a certain percentage contribution to the social security system that is paid by both the employer and the employee. The scheme for self-employed individuals requires the person to make the total amount of contribution on their own account.
The individuals that are categorized under the self-employed scheme are one of the following:
- Work in agriculture
- Self employed
- Domestic employees
- Coal miners
- Port or sea workers
- Civil servants
All individuals are required to be part of the social security system and the contribution to the system is mandatory of all employees. Individuals earning more than EUR 421 per month must obtain a social security number and contribute to the social security system.
The social security system of Spain provides employees a number of benefits. These include the following:
- Maternity leave: new mothers have the right to have a 16 week maternity leave to care for the newborn baby. The post of the employee must be kept for her until she returns and she is entitled to receive full salary during her off months. To be eligible for this benefit, the employee must be registered with the social security system for a period of 180 days over a 5 year period prior to the birth of the child.
- Retirement benefits: the Spanish retirement age is 65 years old. To be eligible for the benefits of the social security system, the individual must be a contributor of the social security system for a period of 15 years.
- Unemployment benefits: individuals out of work can claim unemployment benefits from the government provided that they have contributed to the social security system for a period of 360 days within a 6 year period.