The Spanish social security system in Fuerteventura is very similar to that in the UK. You pay every month, as a self-employed person, or alternatively your Employer will take do all this for you. This entitles you to all the usual benefits – pension, sickness benefit, unemployment benefit, maternity pay and the right to receive the same free healthcare as Spanish nationals. The amount of pension or benefit you receive will of course depend upon the levels of contributions you have been making.
Once you take any job in Fuerteventura your employer is required to register you in the Spanish social security system legally, and to deduct any contributions payable by you from your salary, as well as making the additional employer contributions themselves. You will need to register for your NIE number first. Be aware that if you take on employment where you are paid cash in hand, that you will not be eligible for Social Security benefits, including health care, as no contributions will have been made on your behalf. In this case, we advise you to pay as a self emplyed person. Other employers may register you, but claim you are working less than you are, and give you some of your wages as cash in hand, to save themselves some money in employer contributions. In this situation you will still be eligible for a certain amount of free health care, but if you then become unemployed or have to take a period of sick leave, your benefits will be proportionally lower.
If you are self-employed you will have to go to the local Social Security office and fill in all the paper-work yourself. However, our Spanish isn’t tremendous, so we used the services of a “Gestoria” (official agent – and most definitely worth having as your “new best friend”) to do this for you. They will be able to advise the amount you need to pay. Alternatively if you are already registered in the UK system you can work in Spain for up to 2 years, and you will be entitled to Spanish healthcare. See The Department for Work and Pensions website for further details.
If you are claiming certain benefits when you leave the UK, you may also be able to get your claim transferred to Fuerteventura. Again see The Department for Work and Pensions website for more information. If you leave a job in order to move to Spain, you will not be able to claim any benefits… so no handing in your notice to go sunning yourself on the dunes at Corralejo, whilst hoping to claim dole!
If you have been employed in Spain for 6 months and you lose your job, you will usually be entitled to Spanish unemployment benefit. If you are employed or self-employed, you will also be entitled to sick pay, maternity pay and, also when you eventually retire, a pension. As before, all benefits are dependant on the level of the contributions you have made previously into the system. Another useful thing to note, is that if you are planning to live in Spain for quite some time, you should contact the DSS overseas department in order to get your UK National Insurance contributions transferred over to the Spanish system here. We cannot say how easy the process is as yet – but watch this space, as we’ll be doing it ourselves over the coming months. We would also be interested in hearing from anyone who has done this successfully.