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Unemployment benefits (Paro)- Guide

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

If you lost your job in Spain, there are a series of steps you can take to make sure you are protected during your job search period. The Spanish Social Security system can provide you with an unemployment benefit . The amount and duration varies depending on your work history and Social Security contributions.

What should I do if I become unemployed? The first and most important thing to do once you are unemployed, is to sign up with the Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal (SEPE) as a job seeker. This is a necessary requisite to apply for your unemployment benefit if you are entitled to one, and also it will add you to the SEPE’s job centre. To register as a job seeker you will need an appointment with the nearest SEPE office (also known as Oficina de Empleo). You can get the appointment through this website or by calling the phone number 901 010 210. This procedure needs to be done in person.

EU Residency Certificates (green cards/A4) for British nationals are no longer accepted by the Employment Office (Oficina de Empleo) . Now the TIE (plastic biometric card )is required. The employment office will accept the receipt of the exchange (Resguardo) if you haven't received the final TIE yet. Types of benefits and subsidies The SEPE offers many different types of benefits, but in this guide we will cover the most common ones. If your case falls out of the scope of this guide, we recommend seeking advice at a specialist site or to consult with your former employer and HR department.

Contributory Unemployment Benefit (Solicitud de prestación contributiva) You are entitled to claim this benefit if it is the first time you are unemployed, or if having requested it previously, you’ve regained the right to claim the benefit. This benefit will grant you protection in a situation of involuntary unemployment by providing you with a monthly income during a determined period of time, based on your contributions to the Social Security system when you were employed. That is why it is called a contributory unemployment benefit. The benefit requirements are :

  • Being unemployed and registered as a job seeker in the SEPE’s job centre

  • Being registered in the Social Security system (alta)

  • Having a minimum period of contributions (cotización) of 360 days in the past 6 years, or since you received the last contributory unemployment benefit.

  • Be under retirement age

Unemployment subsidy You can access this benefit if you have been unemployed for a long time and if your contributory unemployment benefit has expired. Unlike the contributory unemployment benefit, you are entitled to this benefit if:

  • You are unemployed, registered as a job seeker at the SEPE’s job centre and accepted a commitment of activity.

  • You are not entitled toa contributory unemployment benefit.

  • Your monthly income, of any kind, is less than the 75% of the minimum income (Salario Mínimo Interprofesional).

*If you are over 52 years of age, read also the benefit listed below. Unemployment subsidy for people over 52 years old Unlike the unemployment subsidy, you are entitled to this benefit if:

  • You are unemployed and registered as a job seeker at the SEPE’s job centre within a month after your contributory unemployment benefit has expired and accepted a commitment of activity (justified causes that break the commitment will be considered). If you accept a job offer with a length of 12 months or less, this initial month will freeze until your contract is finished.

  • You were 52 or above when the contributory unemployment benefit or unemployment subsidy expired.

  • You meet all the requirements, except age, to qualify for the retirement contributory unemployment benefit (pensión contributiva de jubilación) provided by the Spanish Social Security system

  • You have contributed to the unemployment fund for at least 6 years during your working life.

You meet one of the following criteria:

  • Your contributory unemployment benefit has expired

  • You migrated back to Spain and you are not entitled to a contributory unemployment benefit

  • You have been released from prison after 6 months or more, and are not entitled to a contributory unemployment benefit

  • After recovering from a situation of total/permanent disability you have been declared fully capable or partially disabled

  • Being legally unemployed and not being entitled to the contributory unemployment benefit due to insufficient contributions (less than 12 months, but more than 3 months)

If you worked in a foreign country:

  • If within the EU, EEA, Australia or Switzerland, you will have to provide your contributions in the country you worked (E-301 form or equivalent).

This subsidy will last until you can access the retirement contributory pension scheme. Active insertion benefit (Renta Activa de Inserción or RAI) If you are unemployed and aren’t entitled to the contributory unemployment benefit or the unemployment subsidy, you can request the RAI. This benefit is specifically aimed at any of the following groups:

  • Long term unemployed

  • Disabled people

  • Returned migrant workers

  • Victims of domestic violence

In general terms, to access the RAI the applicant will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Be unemployed

  • Be under 65

  • Not entitled to any other contributory or unemployment subsidy.

  • Your monthly income, of any kind is less than the 75% of the minimum income (Salario Mínimo Interprofesional). This is calculated by dividing the family income rate by its members. In the case of victims of domestic violence, the income of their partners is not taken into account.

  • You do not receive financial subsidies or benefits which are incompatible with a professional activity.

  • You do not receive a non-contributory disability benefit, and if you do, suspend it while receiving the RAI.

Depending on whether you are a long term unemployed, disabled, returned migrant or victim of domestic violence, there are an extra set of requisites to apply for the RAI. You can check them at this website. Applying for the unemployment benefits During the previous COVID-19 restrictions, it was possible to formalise a provisional application online by sending an online form to the SEPE. In case further information or documentation is required, the SEPE may contact you by phone or e-mail. If you have a Digital Certificate or Cl@ve, you can also present your application through this website. You will need to select the benefit you want to apply for in the menu and follow the instructions in your screen.


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