It was written on 1 June 2016. The law and practice in Spain change all the time. Our guides are updated as frequently as possible - typically every three years - but may be out of date.
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This guide is only about accidents that happen in the workplace in Spain.
It describes, in particular, how to deal with such accidents in the area of Andalusia/Andalucía –which contains the Costa del Sol. See a map here. Please note that certain aspects of the law in Spain vary from one "autonomous community" (comunidad autónoma) to another.
This guide does not cover any other type of accident.
Accidents at work are a sad fact of life. They are usually surrounded by lots of regulatory and reporting requirements. The Costa del Sol is no exception.
See our general guide to Dealing with an Accident on the Costa del Sol for general information about the things you should do when you suffer any accident.
However, because work-related accidents are a special category with special requirements we have produced this separate guide to deal with them.
If you are an employee suffering an accident at work, there are three main things for you to bear in mind:
Your legal requirements
The requirements of your employer
Looking after your own interests
If you are an employer whose employee suffers an accident at work on the Costa del Sol, you only need to worry about the first and third of these categories.
Bear in mind that all aspects of health and safety are pursued with great vigour in Spain, and there are very strict legal requirements as to what you must do following an accident at work.
An accident at work is any accident in which you suffer any injury, however small. If you stab yourself with a paperclip and a drop of blood oozes from your fingertip that is, legally speaking, an accident at work; and you must follow all of the rules by reporting it etc.
In practise, for that sort of trivial injury, most people will - very sensibly - take no action.
However, you don't need to go much further up the severity scale before you really ought to report an accident - and there are many who would argue that every accident ought to be reported. What happens if your paperclip has been contaminated and you are taken seriously ill later on? So apply common sense but err on the side of caution. It is in both the employer's and the employee's best interests to do so.
The process of reporting an accident at work on the Costa del Sol is as follows:
If the accident is not serious enough to require the employee to take time off work:
The employee reports the accident to their employer, who provides an accident report form. The employee also goes to the mutual insurance company. This is the insurance company that provides cover for people suffering injury at work. Each company has one appointed when hiring employees - where a doctor will examine the employee.
If the injury is not serious, the employee will go back to work either the same day or the next day, depending on the doctor’s opinion.
The insurance company will provide the employee with documentation, which the employee should then deliver to their employer.
If the accident is serious enough to prevent the employee from working for a while:
Again, the employee reports the accident to their employer, who provides an accident report form. The employee also goes to the mutual insurance company – each company has one appointed when hiring employees - where a doctor will examine the employee.
The employee will receive a medical leave form (parte de baja) from the mutual insurance company and deliver it to their employer.
The employee must renew the parte de baja when the previous one expires. The time period for which the parte de baja is valid will depend on the injury and the insurance company.
If you are out of work for a long period of time, the mutual insurance company will contact you for an occasional inspection visit, in order to ensure that you are genuinely ill and unable to work.
If you receive medical treatment at a hospital - and the hospital considers the treatment was as a result of an accident at work - then they will send you a letter requesting the details of your employer and mutual insurance company.
If you fail to do so, they will charge you for the costs of the treatment received.
An employer must have a contract in place with a qualified mutual insurance company. When you hire employees, social security will oblige you to choose from one of the insurance companies available. Payment to this insurance company is included in the social security that an employer pays on behalf of their employees.
The mutual insurance company will take care of the employee's medical needs in case of an accident at work.
For the first 20 days of an employee's absence due to an accident at work, the employer will pay the full salary of the employee. After day 21, the mutual insurance company will cover 75% of the salary, with the employer only paying 25%.
The employer has the obligation of ensuring that the work premises are safe, and the employees work in an environment that complies with all health and safety regulations in force. The employer must also arrange for the employees to be duly trained on how to prevent accidents at work.
The employer must arrange for the employees to pass an annual medical test. This is normally done by specialised companies that the employer hires.
Whenever you have the feeling that your rights are not been respected or you think you are entitled to compensation from your employer, you should seek legal advice.
Some trade unions provide free initial advice to their members, so if you belong to one of them, you can ask them for advice. If you are not a member of any trade union, you should seek the advice of a lawyer who specialises in labour cases.
Membership of a trade union is easy to obtain. Just approach the union of your choice and apply for membership, which you will maintain with a monthly fee. You can read a great overview of trade unions in Spain, as well as a list of the major unions, here.
See our General Guide to Dealing with an Accident on the Costa del Sol for more information.
If you suffer an accident at work you may need to take time off.
Your employer cannot fire you if you take time off work as a result of an accident at work.
Normally, your doctor will tell how long you should stay off work - and the doctor's opinion will usually be respected.
If you take time off as a result of an accident at work, the mutual insurance company reimburses your employer for your salary during the period of your absence. This is why they will check on you from time-to-time: to make sure that you are ill enough to be off work.
The amount of time you have to take off work will also be a factor in the amount of any compensation you receive for the accident, if you decide to make a claim.
You are required to comply with the reporting rules and to deal promptly with any issues arising out of accidents at work. It is, in any case, in your interest to do so.
It is recommended practise that in the case of any accident you should carry out a review of what caused the accident and record your conclusion. When we say that you should carry out a review, this does not suggest a process taking weeks or months. Often the review can be concluded in five or ten minutes. "Mr X slipped on oil on the workshop floor. The procedure requires the floor to be cleaned hourly. It had been cleaned ten minutes before the accident occurred. It is unclear where the oil came from but most likely to be spillage by Mr X. Memo sent to all employees highlighting the danger of spilling oil and the need to clean it up immediately if they do so."
Have you got experience with accidents at work in Spain? Tell us about it by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fortunately, accidents at work are rare. Unfortunately, in the worst cases, they can have life-changing consequences.
The rate of serious accidents at work has fallen a great deal in Spain over the last ten years and there is no doubt that the strict reporting requirements have contributed to this.
|Dealing with an Accident on the Costa del Sol
This guide is about accidents on the Costa del Sol and what to do when you have one. It deals only with general accidents.
|Accidents Due to Defective Premises on the Costa del Sol
This guide is about what happens if you have an accident due to faulty or dangerous premises on the Costa del Sol.
|Health and safety at work in Spain: an overview
From EurWork: "Drawing on a range of recent sources, this feature analyses a number of current issues relating to health and safety at work in Spain, including the incidence of occupational illness, accident rates and measures to prevent risk."
|Trade Unions in Spain (PDF)
Organisation, Environment, Challenges - a thorough look at labour unions from Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
We hope you have found this guide useful. If you need any further help, please contact us.Manzanares Abogados S.L. 1 June 2016