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Spain to become first EU country to ensure delivery riders are salaried staff

Spain's government announced Thursday a deal that will recognise riders working for delivery firms such as Deliveroo and UberEats as salaried staff following complaints about their working conditions -- a first in the EU.

Spain to become first EU country to ensure delivery riders are salaried staff
Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP

The move came six months after Spain’s leftwing government pledged to clarify the legal status of couriers working for online delivery firms, saying they should be considered employees rather than gig workers.

It is the first legislation passed in Europe that explicitly regulates the status of delivery workers who get around on bikes and motorcycles and whose numbers have exploded in recent years.

In Spain, as in other countries, the riders have repeatedly denounced their precarious working conditions, taking legal action to demand recognition as salaried staff, which would grant them benefits such as paid holidays and sick leave.

“They are now considered as salaried workers and will enjoy all the relevant protections,” Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz said in a televised address.

Spain is “the first country in the European Union to legislate on the matter”, Diaz said.

The delivery firms have repeatedly insisted that they are merely acting as an intermediary between businesses and the riders, who are self-employed and must pay their own health and pension contributions.

The text, which will take the form of a legislative decree, “recognises the presumption of employment for workers who provide paid delivery services” via such digital companies, a ministry statement said.

Confusion over the riders’ status has also arisen as some court rulings have gone in their favour and others in favour of the delivery firms.

The government pledge came after a Supreme Court ruling in September that there was a “working relationship” between riders and Barcelona-based food delivery app Glovo.

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WORKING IN SPAIN

Why does my salary vary between months in Spain if I’m a contract employee?

If you’re employed by a company in Spain, you may have noticed that what you get paid each month is sometimes higher and other times lower. Here's why this happens and how you can understand it better.

Why does my salary vary between months in Spain if I'm a contract employee?

Many asalariados (salaried employees) across Spain will have noticed that their wages at the beginning of 2022 may have been lower than that net salary they received at the end of 2021.

This is in fact usually not down to error, but comes as a result of your company withholding a higher amount of personal income tax (IRPF) at the start of the year, resulting in you getting paid less.

Companies in Spain are obliged to withhold a certain percentage of your salary called IRPF (Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Físicas).

This, in turn, gets passed on to Spain’s Hacienda tax agency. Your gross salary and personal circumstances mean that the income tax withheld will vary.

Your employer will calculate the amount of your gross salary you must pay to the Treasury as personal income tax and will deduct it from your payroll month by month. This can be done between the 12 or 14 salary payments per year.

Alternatively, a lower percentage of tax may be applied in the first months of the year, which is then adjusted by raising it in the final few months of the year, or vice versa, which is why fluctuations can occur.

You should keep in mind that if at the beginning of the year you received a raise, had a baby or opened a pension plan, it may mean that the tax withheld from your company will go up or down. Having a new baby for example gives you a reduction.  

What if I believe there is an error in my IRPF calculations?

If you still believe there is an error, this can be rectified whilst filing your annual income tax return – la declaración de la renta – which you should each year between April and June.

READ ALSO – La Renta: The important income tax deadlines in Spain in 2022

If you receive an annual gross salary of less than €22,000, you are not required to fill out an annual tax declaration, but may want to do so if you believe that your employer has been deducting too much tax. If the error is found in your favour, Spain’s tax agency will return your overpaid tax.

How can I find out how much tax will be deducted in advance?

If you want to be prepared and find out exactly how much tax your company will deduct from your salary each month, you can fill out this tax calculator for 2022 found on the Hacienda website. This will let you know exactly how much IRPF should be deducted from your wage, depending on your personal circumstances. 

Your employer may also ask you to fill out the form Modelo 145 to help them work out how much tax you should pay.

The form will ask you for your current personal situation such as marital status, if you have children or other dependents. Depending on the outcome of this, you may get further discounts on the amount of tax that is withheld.

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