August/September 2023

Spanish Digital Nomad Visa Update, Work-Life Balance Decree

By Nathan North

The startup ecosystem in Spain has received a significant boost with Law 28/2022, passed on 21 December 2022. This new legislation encompasses various aspects of the startup environment, including administrative, tax, civil, commercial, and immigration changes. A notable immigration change is the introduction of a special visa for “digital nomads” or international teleworkers.


The Digital Nomad Visa Explained

The Digital Nomad Visa is for non-European citizens and their family members who wish to live in Spain while working remotely for a company outside the country. This visa applies to individuals who rely exclusively on computers, internet, and telecommunication systems. Applicants must possess an undergraduate or postgraduate degree or have at least three years of relevant work experience. Additionally, the new law offers the option to request a highly favourable tax regime for these employees.

The legislation provides additional benefits to existing work permits governed by the entrepreneurs’ law. This law offers a streamlined and flexible regime for foreign entrepreneurs and international companies seeking to hire highly qualified employees or transfer their current employees to Spain. These work permits have been extended to three years, with the possibility of renewal. Documentation requirements, such as professional qualifications and criminal record certificates, are more flexible.

These changes in the immigration and work permit regulations aim to attract and support international businesses and non-European citizens in Spain. The country is positioning itself as an attractive destination for entrepreneurship and talent by providing a conducive environment for startups and remote workers.


Work-Life Balance Measure Implementation

The Spanish government has taken a significant step toward improving work-life balance for parents and carers with Royal Decree Law 5/2023, effective 30 June 2023.

The new measure contains several important provisions, including new paid leaves for carers and parents. One significant change is that unmarried couples now have the same rights as married couples regarding these types of leaves and other related rights.

The types of leaves that are approved under the decree include the following:

  1. New parental leave: Existing legislation already provides for a four-month parental leave for both parents. However, there is a new parental leave for the care of a child or adopted child (if under one year old) until the child turns eight years old. This leave can be up to eight weeks and can be taken all at once or in shorter periods. The leave cannot be transferred to another individual and is compatible with other paid leaves.


  2. Limits on simultaneous leaves: The measure sets limits on both parents exercising leaves for breastfeeding, working time reduction, or unpaid leaves at the same time (unless duly justified) if both parents work for the same company.


  3. Paid leave of absence and related rights:
    • Leave for serious accident or illness, hospitalisation, or non-hospitalised surgery that requires home rest for the spouse, unmarried partner, or relatives up to the second degree (including those of the unmarried partner) or any other individual living with the employee and requiring their care has been increased from two days to five days.
    • The right to be absent from work due to unforeseen circumstances, necessary for urgent and unforeseeable family reasons, in the event of illness or accident that makes their immediate presence indispensable, has been extended to four days.
    • Leave in the case of the death of a spouse, unmarried partner, or relatives up to the second degree has been reduced to two days (or four days if travel is required).
    • Civil unions' leave has been extended to 15 calendar days.


  4. Extension of leave for single-parent families: Single parents now have the right to take full extensions of the contract suspension, as provided for two-parent families, in the event of the child's disability or in the case of multiple births.


  5. Working time reduction: The right to reduce working hours to care for relatives up to the second degree has been extended to unmarried partners and their relatives, provided no blood relatives are available to provide care. Additionally, the right to working time reduction has been extended for children or disabled individuals under 26 years old who have cancer or other serious illnesses.


The new measure prohibits any discrimination based on gender when exercising these rights and provides enhanced protection against termination, rendering such terminations null and void.

Employers with operations in Spain should carefully review their policies and train their managers to ensure compliance with these changes. It is essential to understand the rights and entitlements of employees related to work-life balance, parental leaves, and caregiving responsibilities. By creating an inclusive and supportive work environment, employers can contribute to the well-being and productivity of their workforce, ultimately benefiting both employees and businesses.

Nathan North is Director of Strategic Initiatives for PayrollOrg.
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