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WORKING IN SPAIN

CONFIRMED: Spain to raise minimum wage to €1,000

Despite opposition from companies and business associations, Spain’s left-wing coalition government has confirmed that the country's minimum wage will be increased up to €1,000 gross over 14 payments, applicable from January 2022. 

spain minimum wage
It's the second minimum wage increase in the last six months in Spain. Photo: Jaime Reina/AFP

Spain’s Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz on Wednesday announced that the Spanish Cabinet will approve an increase of the country’s minimum wage up to €1,000 at their next meeting on February 22nd.

This represents a €35 increase from the current minimum wage of €965. On Tuesday, trade union UGT disclosed the suggested rise would be €31, but Díaz has decided it should be €4 higher to reach a round number of €1,000.

This is a gross figure (pre-tax) which minimum wage full-time workers will receive over 14 payments as is standard in Spain, with an extra payments during the summer and another at Christmas (pagas extras) rather than 12 (one for every month).

 It will also apply retroactively from January 2022, meaning minimum wagers will be paid an extra €35 for work carried out last month as well as this one.

Spain’s government has pushed through the 3.6 percent minimum wage rise thanks to the support of trade unions CCOO and UGT, and despite not receiving the green light during negotiations from business associations CEIE and Cepyme, which have said the move responds more to “political aspirations than financial common sense”. 

Last September, the Spanish government already approved a €15 rise in el salario mínimo from €950 to €965, a bill which was also spearheaded by Yolanda Díaz and which business associations rejected as unfeasible and detrimental to job creation.

“This government fulfils its promises,” Díaz said during a press conference on Wednesday. 

“Despite everything that’s been said, raising the minimum wage has been very positive for our country and our economy.”

According to the Unidas Podemos politician and second Deputy Prime Minister, it’s “science fiction” to argue otherwise because it’s been “empirically” proven that raising wages encourages people to spend more and this in turn helps the economy.

“We are committed to having a work model that’s not based on low wages, competing like this equates to defending a bad economy, precarious businesses and a social model that is profoundly unfair”.

The government’s objective is that by the end of 2023, Spain’s minimum wage will represent around 60 percent of the average salary in the country.

This latest increase will benefits more than 1.8 million workers in Spain, according to the labour ministry, both full-time and part-time workers.

However, the previous rise in minimum wages resulted in the increase of €8 in social security contributions for the country’s self-employed workers up to €294 a month, a figure that could increase further still for many under new plans to raise rates based on real earnings.  

Even though job insecurity and unemployment remain relatively high in Spain, the country already has the seventh highest minimum wage rate in the EU.

Last Thursday, the Spanish government managed to pass a long-awaited labour reform aimed at ending rampant job insecurity with a majority of just one, but it quickly emerged that a PP deputy accidentally voted for the legislation and in doing so tipped the balance in favour of the government.

This will also lead to a salary increase for some 73,000 workers in Spain who belong to multi-service companies that offer cleaning, gardening, maintenance and other services.

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SPAIN AND THE US

Spain and the US to exchange more language assistants in bilingualism push    

The governments of Spain and the United States have agreed to recruit more English and Spanish-language assistants from each other’s countries as a means of bolstering bilingual education in the two nations.

Spain and the US to exchange more language assistants in bilingualism push    

Spain’s Education Minister Pilar Alegría and US ambassador to Spain Julissa Reynoso met on Wednesday to sign a memorandum of understanding which will reinforce educational cooperation between the two countries. 

The agreement had been previously signed by Miguel Cardona, the United States Secretary of Education, who tweeted: “This week, alongside [Spanish] Ambassador [Santiago] Cabañas, I signed a memorandum supporting the study of Spanish language & culture in the US, and the study of English in Spain”.

It is in fact a renewal of a memorandum between the United States and Spain which has facilitated mobility of both conversation assistants and students between the two countries in recent years.

The aim of this newest memorandum of understanding is to further strengthen student and teacher exchange programmes and promote bilingual and multicultural teaching in both educational systems.

No exact details have yet been given about how many extra language assistants will be given grants to join the programme. 

Several teacher recruitment sources suggest the current number of North American language assistants (including Canadians) heading to Spain every year is between 2,000 and 2,500. 

The Spanish government has stated that in 2023, this figure will be around 4,500, which represents a considerable increase in the number of US and Canadian citizens who can apply through the NALCAP programme, which stands for North American Language and Culture Assistants in Spain. 

According to Spain’s Foreign Ministry, the following requirements must be met by US candidates in order to participate in the programme:

  • Be a U.S. citizen and have a valid passport
  • Have earned a bachelor’s degree or be currently enrolled as a sophomore, junior or a senior in a bachelor’s programme. Applicants may also have an associate degree or be a community college student in their last semester.
  • Have a native-like level of English
  • Be in good physical and mental health
  • Have a clean background check
  • Be aged 18 – 60.
  • Have at least basic knowledge of Spanish (recommended)

NALCAP recipients receive a monthly stipend of €700 to €1,000 as well as Spanish medical insurance.

Application dates for 2023 are usually announced in late November. See more information on the NALPAC programme for US nationals here

According to The Fulbright Program, one of several US cultural exchange programmes that organises the recruitment of US nationals for Spain: “English Teaching Assistants assist teaching staff at the early childhood, elementary, middle school, high school, vocational and/or university level for up to 16 hours per week, with an additional two hours for planning & coordination meetings. Responsibilities include assistant-teaching, in English, subjects such as social studies, science and technology, art, physical education, and English language.”

READ MORE: The pros and cons of being an English language assistant in Spain

There are also currently more than 1,000 Spanish teachers working as visiting teachers in the United States, Spain’s Moncloa government has said, without adding yet how many more will be recruited in 2023.

Additionally, more than 1,000 North American students now take part in the Spanish Language and Culture Groups managed by the Spanish Education Ministry’s Overseas Education Action (or Acción Educativa Exterior, AEE).  

Canadian applicants can find out more about working as language assistants in Spain by visiting the NALCAP Canada website.

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