About the Author: Neil McMillan

Current president of SLB and a freelance teacher of English, in addition to a teacher-trainer, writer and translator. He holds a Diploma in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) as well as a Ph.D in literature from the University of Glasgow, and has over 20 years’ classroom experience working with adults, teenagers and children from all over the world.

A while back we reported on the formulation of a new law for autónomo workers in Spain (autónomos are officially registered freelancers). Well, it took a while but a good part of that bill has now passed into law, with more elements coming online in January. Here we give the SLB lowdown on the most important bits and bobs.

[Image: All shall be equal before the law: justice graffiti in Cape Town, South Africa by Ben Sutherland. CC BY 2.0]


New law for autónomo workers in Spain

Things for new (and born-again) autónomos

As we reported before, one of the most significant changes in the new law for autónomo workers in Spain is to make it easier and cheaper to become freelance.

  • The flat rate of social security for new autónomos has been extended to two years: 12 months paying only 50€, 6 months at 137,97€ and another 6 months  at 192,79€. After that you’ll be liable for the full quota of around 270€ per month. Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the new law which allows social security payments to be tied to income.
  • Returning or “born-again” autónomos will also be able to access these flat rates, as long as it’s been at least three years since they last signed off.
  • Freelancers will now pay their quota from the day they sign up; previously this was backdated to the beginning of the same month, so unless you signed up on the 1st, you were getting ripped off. However, if you’re in the habit of signing on and off as a freelancer according to sporadic work, note that this can only applies for the first three times you do it. After that they’ll start charging you for the full month.

For more deals for new autónomos, see the section below entitled Things for autónomos who also work contracts.

Things for all autónomos

The new law for autónomo workers in Spain has introduced some welcome developments in terms of tax-deductible expenses and other aspects:

  • If your home is registered as your workplace with Hacienda, you can reduce your IRPF (income tax) base to the tune of 30% of the electricity, gas, water, telephone and internet expenses pertaining to your workspace. For this you’ll need to calculate the proportion of floorspace this takes up in your home, but you are no longer required to have separate metering.
  • For any meals in restaurants, hotels etc. that relate to your freelance work, you can now deduct up to 27,27€ daily, or 48€ if you’re abroad. The conditions are that you need to pay electronically and ask for a full factura (invoice).
  • You can now change your base de cotización (contribution base) for social security payments up to four times a year: on the 1st of April, 1st of July, 1st of October and 1st of January of the following year. Your application must be received by the day before you want your base to be changed.
  • The fine for late social security contributions has been reduced from 20% to 10% – as long as you pay it by the end of the following calendar month.


Things for mums and dads

Yes, there are crazy fools out there who dare to have a family while working freelance! Here’s what the new law for autónomo workers in Spain will do for you:

  • Mums who restart their freelance work will be able to access the flat social security rates mentioned in the first section without having to wait 3 years to restart.
  • Mums and dads who take maternity or paternity leave will no longer need to continue paying their social security quota during that time. The only condition is that you must have been paying into the system for at least 12 months prior to taking the leave.


Things for freelancers who are also salaried employees

Pluriactividad, as it’s known – working simultaneously as an autónomo and as a salaried employee – will continue to prejudice the freelance worker in terms of excess social security payments. However, from now on, life should get slightly easier:

  • Autónomos whose combined social security contributions (the freelancer contribution plus the employer/worker contributions relating to contracted work) exceed 12.368,23€ are already able to claim 50% of the excess back. From 2018, this will be returned automatically, i.e. without having to submit an application. The less paperwork the better!
  • New autónomos who accept a full-time contract, but who want to continue being freelancers, will be able to reduce their contribution base by 50% for 18 months (minimal monthly payments of 133,52€), and by 25% for the next three months (payments of 200,28€).*
  • New autónomos on a part-time contract will get a 25% reduction for the first 18 months (200,28€) and 15% for the next 18 months (226,94€). The contract should be for more than 50% of a full-time job.*

*These deals cannot be combined with the flat rate for new autónomos described in the first section. New autónomos must choose one or the other. They are also free to raise the contribution base if they wish.

Things yet to come

The new law for autónomo workers in Spain has set aside some important issues for further study. The main commitments are:

  • To analyse the situation of freelancers who bill for less than the minimum yearly interprofessional salary. Currently, in cases where this kind of worker is taken to court for not paying the monthly autónomo quota, legal practice based on jurisprudence tends to find in favour of the worker. This is only a tendency, mind, and nothing is written in law – technically, only a registered and paid-up autónomo can issue facturas. The government is basically promising to investigate this.
  • To look into the possibility of a reduced social security quota for part-time freelancers. This particular measure would introduce, to some extent, a fairer quota system – but time will tell.


Our conclusions

As we said before – it’s good but it’s not good enough. At SLB we will continue to campaign for better conditions for both freelance and salaried language workers. We will also endeavour to inform our members and the wider ELT community about changes in the law and to support our members as they attempt to meet their fiscal obligations while making a decent living.

Before you go: free SLB session on becoming freelance!

If you are a language teacher, translator or writer who is considering becoming autónomo but would like more information or help, you are welcome to come along to one of our free information sessions – the next are on Friday December 1st, 2017 (see details and registration form below). As well as answering your doubts, we’ll explain how membership of our cooperative can reduce the stress, ease the paperwork and help you integrate into the world of freelancing.

  • Friday December 1st 2017,
  • C/ Bruc 168, Barcelona 08037 (see map below)
  • Session 1: 16-17h
  • Session 2: 17-18h


Both sessions are identical; register for one only! Entry is free but places are limited – please apply via the form below the map.

Please note that all places for these sessions are now filled. However, if you would like to be informed about similar events in 2018, please fill in the form below (it won’t matter which session you choose).

[ninja_form id=3]

Leave A Comment

  1. Gina at JobsInSpain.net 25 November 2017 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    Definitely great news for freelancers in Spain! It was about time to get some of these changes but couldn’t agree more: still more is needed to boost the business of those who embark as self employed in Spain.