For members


Can my employer make me work if I test positive for Covid-19?

In March 2022, the Spanish government scrapped quarantine for those with mild or asymptomatic Covid symptoms and now masks are no longer required in most indoor situations. So what happens when you get Covid -can your employer still make you go to work?

working while ill
Woman sick with Covid-19. Photo: Bermix Studio / Unsplash

The end of most self-isolation and mask rules in Spain means that many people may now be going to work while infected with Covid-19 and putting their colleagues at risk.

Recently, there have been several reports of companies telling their employees to come into work, even if they’re testing positive for Covid, saying that if they’re well enough to work remotely, then they’re well enough to come in and work in person.

READ ALSO: How masks became an integral part of life Spain

But can your employer really make you come to work if you have Covid? What are your rights?

Of course, if you have a serious case of Covid-19, then you can get a ‘baja’ or sick note from your doctor saying you don’t have to work.

But what if your case is milder? It’s now not uncommon for doctors to give their Covid patients a ‘baja’ for just a few days while symptoms are at their worst.

However, many people are still testing positive for Covid-19 even after the worst of their symptoms have passed and are no longer eligible for a ‘baja’, meaning that they have to go to work while they still have the virus.

The Spanish government recommends that those who test positive for Covid-19 be allowed to work from home where possible.

“Teleworking or job re-adaptation is recommended to avoid interaction with vulnerable groups,” says the document from the Public Health Commission, both in the case of workers with “symptoms compatible” with Covid-19 and those who already have a positive diagnosis.

If this is the government’s recommendation, is it still possible for companies to make their employees go into work and not be allowed to work from home?

According to the General Union of Workers (UGT) “At the moment, there is no obligation to offer employees the possibility of teleworking in the legislation”.  In the event that the company does not enable this alternative, “preventive measures should be adopted such as cross-ventilation, a distance of one and a half meters, constant hygiene in common areas and providing everyone with masks”.

Ángela Domínguez, coordinator of the Vaccination Group of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology says “In principle, as in any disease, if a person is sick, it is better not to go (to work), especially in the acute phase. If you have very few symptoms or no symptoms and have tested positive, you can go, but it’s important that you wear the mask and respect the rest of the measures”.   

The Spanish government has said that it’s up to each individual company whether they want to continue using the mask or not, but has pointed out a series of factors that should be taken into account when making it, such as the possibility that employees keep a distance of 1.5 meters, the ventilation of the space or the time in which they remain in it and has stressed that the company must take into account the “opinion” of the workers through their representatives. 

The general consensus is that if you do have mild Covid symptoms and you can’t get a ‘baja’ to stay home from work, then remote working is the best option. If your company won’t let you work from home or it’s not possible, then wearing a mask at work and ensuring that the room is well ventilated is the best option to protect your colleagues.

READ ALSO – Have your say: Will you continue wearing a mask indoors in Spain?

Domínguez referred to a study by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) which calculated the time needed to become infected in a closed space without ventilation.

The analysis concluded that, in the presence of a positive, another person can become infected in 15 minutes if neither of them is wearing a mask. If you and the those you interact with use an FFP2 mask, this time can go up to as much as 25 hours.

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For members


What’s the law on dash cams in cars in Spain?

Many drivers in Spain wonder if having a camera in your vehicle is legal. These are some rules you need to follow if you want to do it legally and avoid fines, as well as the grey areas.

What's the law on dash cams in cars in Spain?

Having a camera in your car, whether on the windshield, dashboard (hence the name ‘dash cam’) or attached to your rear-view mirror, is popular in many parts of the world. It can be a good way of proving liability if you have an accident, or if your car is damaged while parked on the street.

Dash cams are increasingly popular in countries like the US and UK, and in places like Russia seen as a necessity. In fact, nowadays there are many car models that have inbuilt dash cams installed at the factory, as is the case with Teslas.

So what about in Spain? Are dash cams legal in Spain, and what are the rules?

Dash cams in Spain

Put very simply (more on the actual rules below) dash cams are legal in Spain. However, there are some regulations you should know about because they might be the same as in your home country.

READ ALSO: What are the rules on being double parked in Spain?

In Spain, restrictions on dash cam use focus mostly on what you do with images captured by the camera, and using the devices while driving.

Any vehicle, for private or public use, whether intended for the transport of people or goods, can have a dash cam in Spain. Anyone in a car, motorcycle or other vehicle, as well as professional drivers, are legally entitled to one.

The rules

Firstly, Spain’s General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) allows the use of dash cams (or any type of camera) inside the car, so long as you comply with DGT regulations and the camera does not cover the windshield and impair the driver’s visibility in any way. If the dash cam does affect visibility and you are caught, you could be fined €80.

Secondly, you cannot touch the dash cam while you are driving. This is considered a more serious offence that could earn you a €200 fine and the removal of 3 points on your license if caught. Think of this as similar to using your phone while driving, though as many dash cams are fixed to the rear-view mirror or dashboard, there shouldn’t be much reason to touch it while driving.

READ ALSO: Driving in Spain: Which towns and cities have low-emission zones?

If you want a dash cam, you must keep in mind Spain’s data protection laws, which establish that recorded images and video content can only be recorded and reproduced for private use, that is, it cannot be published on social media or in any public place because it would violate the privacy of third parties.

So, if the images you record on your dash cam are for personal use, say recording a scenic drive or route, data protection regulations do not apply. However, if you record other people and post it online, it could plausibly contravene data protection legislation.

In addition, according to Spain’s Royal Automobile Club, you cannot make continuous recordings with a dash cam because that could be considered surveillance activity of a public space, something that only certain groups and bodies have permission to, such as the police and security services. For this reason, dash cams must be configured to only record specific moments when a motion sensor or an accelerometer is activated.

Similarly, because there is no specific legislation dealing with dash cam footage, it is grouped under the broader rules on data protection. Spain’s Data Protection Agency (AEPD) explained in a report that, as such, when it comes to dash cam footage each case must be studied on an individual basis.

It also gives some precautions on using dash cams legally in Spain while avoiding possible legal complications. The AEPD report suggests that the recording should be activated only at the time of the event, such as a car crash. That is to say, dash cams should be used to record specific incidents, not generally record the roads. It so advises that that images should be limited to recording what is in front of the vehicle, and that, when reviewing or editing footage, people or information such as license plates that are not linked to the incident should be blurred or removed.