Self Employed - need help

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01 Aug 2008 00:00 by poohbear Star rating. 12 posts Send private message

Hi, does anyone know of European Rights rulings on the following:-
We live near Mazarron in Murcia. My husband and I have lived in Spain for 6 years and have two ways of earning money. One is a carpentry business and the other a music duo (in which we both play). My husband has been self employed (autonomo) for 4 years now and is paying over 240 euros a month + accounts and tax & IVA (VAT) every 3 months.
All this is OK, but we assumed (correctly or not) that because I was an affliated member and that we paid our taxes etc. and of course that all the money we earned was ours (not individual) that I would be legal in helping with the carpentry and doing the music. 
Recently we did a gig (music) and a friend helped us up the stairs with some music gear (as I have a very bad back). Of course the friend was just helping us and we had no intention of paying him.  The “control” (the social services) came into the bar and gave us a ticket for our friend.
Since then we have been forced into not only accepting a fine of around 600 euros for not having this man "employed" by us, but we have been forced into making him a contract, paying his social for one month and have him resign. We were told this had to be done immediately and if we didn’t comply the fine would go up (into the thousands bracket)  The accountant said that although it is not illegal to work for nothing, the Spanish are inherently suspicious and do not believe that somebody would ! So they gave us the fine because they don’t believe that we have friends who are nice enough to help us without getting paid!
We can fight it, but this will cost us a lot of money (on top of what we have already spent) and that they would probably still enforce the fine at the end of it.
Also, they have told me I have to go legal.  In any other circumstance I would be able to be employed on a part time basis, costing around 60 - 80 euros a month. However because a) I am married to Bob (my husband who is autonomo) and b) because music is a "special business" - I have been told I have to go fully autonomo. This will cost me 175 euros per month. There is also an age limit on paying the full autonomo price, which unfortunately for me means that I will get one month at this price, but next month, when I am 36 it will go up to the same amount that my husband pays.  It is ridiculous as I only work about 4 hours a week!
We have friends who run businesses and have their wives working for them (at a cost of 60 euros a month / part time) but they have said that the music business is different and we are not allowed to do this.
Obviously this is discrimination against me, a) I am a female and married  b) I am a musician.
We also had a music night where people could get up on stage with us and sing a song. Some of these people are either retired (from England, France, Germany, Norway, Holland etc..) or on holiday from these places – and we have been told that they are not legal to do this and if they get caught it will be us that receive the fine.
I have already notified the accountant that I feel this is discrimination and wish to be legal, employed by my husband and part time.
I cannot afford a lawyer – this situation so far is costing us around 1000 euros. I think that the authorities are picking on us, maybe because we are British, but they have only visited the English bars in one particular area. We have been told in no uncertain terms that there are NO Spanish entertainers that are legal.

P.S. Friends of ours who have a band have gone legal, one of them is paying the full autonomo price and he employs the others at 60 euros a month (part time hours). Obviously, none of them are married to eachother!


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03 Aug 2008 23:37 by Robert H Star rating in Marbella. 63 posts Send private message

This is a sticky situation, and I think it comes from the difference in cultures of marriage in England and here. A Spanish couple is married only for the private sphere, not in the economical sense. If you both run the same business, you either are both self employed, paying your own social security, or one of the two is legally employed by the partner whos business it is. Often, it would make sense in these cases to set up a SL company, with its activities set out in its statutes, and both draw a salary from the company. This is usually a good route to take if the company has a turnover of more than 70.000 per year. 

The friend who was caught helping out is very unfortunate, and I have never seen this happen in all the years I lived here, I would only be careful next time. People singing along on a music night is not illegal, there are plenty of kareoke venues, also among the Spanish this is very popular.

I would however clear this situation up soon, as these controls often go deeper than just a night in a bar.

Robert H Marbella

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04 Aug 2008 05:54 by mariadecastro Star rating in Algeciras (Cadiz). 9001 posts Send private message

Legal Questions? Speak to Maria Direct
There is no obstacle for you to be employed by your husband and of course you cannot be forced to be under the autonomo regime in this case. Ask your accountant to check on that.




Maria L. de Castro, JD, MA



El blog de Maria

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04 Aug 2008 12:32 by poohbear Star rating. 12 posts Send private message

Hi, thanks for the replies
We are not earning enough for a Ltd company, our business is tiny, in fact I don´t know how me manage to pay the morgage and the 300 odd a month to be in the system anyway.  As you said, I should be able to be employed by my husband in our business as he is fully legal. However this seems to be, like all Spanish Law, able to be interpreted in several ways. Each time I speak to someone they are either doing this already or have been told they cannot.  Maria´s answer above shows that as a lawyer she says that it is legal !
Can someone actually quote me the legal document that says this.  I thought my accountant was good, but each one seems to have their own take on the situation and the law. Its very confusing and is costing us a fortune to sort out, one that we don´t have.  We have been told that if we get a fine and can´t pay it, they will come and take stuff from the house. Taking into account that this fine is for someone helping us for free and they have already MADE him become employed by us and MADE him resign.  I have consulted the Spanish Ombudsman - how do you think I will get on there?

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04 Aug 2008 13:00 by morerosado Star rating in Guardamar del Segura.... 6933 posts Send private message

morerosado´s avatar
It's a crazy situation, Lisa, I wish you well.









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04 Aug 2008 14:33 by Robert H Star rating in Marbella. 63 posts Send private message

Maria is right, you can of course be legally employed by your husband. Just have your gestor make out the cheapest possible labor contract, part time, and on a minimum nomina. (around 500 eur per month) over which a proportional social security payment will be paid. In real terms, you only have to sign those nominas, and actually not earn the money. That is as far as I can see the cheapest way.

If you get a fine which you can't pay, there are some options. Make your intent to pay known in writing and then negociate a payment schedule. They will not often come around to take items from the house, but embargo your accounts. If the fine is big enough, they can embargo your property, if you own one. Your gestor should be able to help you come to an agreement with whomever you have to pay the fine to. I have seen this happen on occasions.

Robert H Marbella

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04 Aug 2008 17:45 by poohbear Star rating. 12 posts Send private message

Hi Robert
Thanks for that, but the problem is they are insiting here that it is against the law and I must also be autonomo and not employed by Bob. You both seem so sure and I know Maria is a solicitor,  but can anyone help me by quoting me an official document or a certain part in the law that they / we can refer to.  I have tried looking up the law but, of course, its in legal Spanish jargon and I can´t even read legal English jargon.  I really hope you are both right because this situation is going to ruin our business and our lives in Spain - we cannot afford to spend 600 euros a month just to be legal.  I hope to get this sorted and get back a) my money that I have paid for July and b) the money back from my accountant who should have checked it out properly in the first place and will have done all these trips to Lorca for nothing!
Cheers, Lisa

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04 Aug 2008 18:33 by Robert H Star rating in Marbella. 63 posts Send private message

Who is insisting that? And what about the countless Spanish family restaurants and other businesses? Your husband is free to employ whomever he wants, as long as the employee has the right to work in Spain, which in your case is not a problem.

Robert H Marbella

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05 Aug 2008 08:50 by poohbear Star rating. 12 posts Send private message

Hi Robert
Having asked for some evidence Maria has very kindly checked properly and I´m afraid to say that I CANNOT be employed by my husband! I can however, be employed by my FATHER - and so we have it, the final nail in the coffin.  Spanish law is most definately directed towards, guess who - oh yes, the SPANISH and is totally discrimitory towards everyone else.  Basically the law means that anyone with a family here can all be employed by Dad, who pays his autonomo every month and all the others are employed (part time - even though they work full time hours) and pay 60 - 80 euros a month each.
Great isn´t it !  I am so upset - the  Defensor del Pueblo (Defender of the Public ) has noted my complaint, gave me a number and are now totally ignoring me, surprise, surprise.  What would you do in this wonderfull situation ?

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05 Aug 2008 10:35 by Robert H Star rating in Marbella. 63 posts Send private message


Well, that is weird, but I have to say that I respect Maria's opinions on these matters. The reason why you don't getr much response from the Defensor de Pueblo is basically because it is August. In this case, if your father is not here to employ you, I would go autonomo myself, which has some advantages as well, first of all you are fully covered by the SS, and build up your own pension with them. Also, every receipt, IVA, car hire etc. can be claimed in your three monthly declarations. If your husband has a SL company, then he can employ you of course. Or you can try and stay under the radar, but the risks are there.

Robert H Marbella

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17 Sep 2008 18:13 by lucygirl Star rating. 2 posts Send private message

Hi There - my brother has just had a visit from the Social Security and despite being told by his accountant that only he needs to be autonimo for his Restaurant Bar they have said that his wife who helps out also has to be autonimo and that he cannot employ here to lessen the payment.  They make very little money especially at this time so looks likely they will have to close and therefore noone wins and all loose money.


We have been told that having an SL company is the same - if husband and wife own it then the husband cannot employ the wife and even if the wife works there and does not earn anything she still has to pay social security and it can only be autonimo.  Both are also administrators of the company.  If the company is showing very little or no profit then its an impossible situation and probably will have to close. The same accountant advised that only one director needed to pay social security.

So much for family businesses! 

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17 Sep 2008 20:25 by sandybeach Star rating. 9 posts Send private message

This is why the Spanish economy is in a mess and will never be dynamic. Anyone trying to start a business which could be someone leaving college or someone older or anyone doing a seasonal business is forced to pay over 3000 euros a year even if they earn next to nothing! It also seems that a single person pays the same as a married man with 6 children but the advantages for someone with children are far greater when you consider health care etc. I just can't understand why the government can't see this. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy and create most employment. Anyone starting a business shouldn't have to pay SS for the first 2 years and it should be staged, for example 80 euros for a single person 120 euros for a married couple 160 euro married = one child 240 euros married 2 children 300 euros 3= children

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18 Sep 2008 07:49 by poohbear Star rating. 12 posts Send private message

I agree with Sandybeach, there should be provision for small businesses. We didn´t all come here with 250 grand in the bank ready to buy a house etc.  Some of us have mortgages on top of the social system money and have to pay tax and then the normal bills. I feel for Lucygirl´s brother, this is just the sort of discrimination that needs highlighting and if you look at the previous posts you´ll find that even a solicitor thought initially that I would be able to be employed by my husband. Why do I have to be employed at all.  Any money made with our business, is our money - we both pay for the business, we both run the business, we both are responsible for our mortgage and the bills. I am listed already on the social system because we are married.
Don´t bother trying to get help with this either - I have been in touch with the European Commission who have basically said that this is not deemed discriminatory because its part of the Spanish Social System and therefore relates to TAX.  I have argued that they should be able to intervene when your rights are being taken away for whatever reason and have explained that if we were Spanish our fathers could employ the whole family and the costs would be split, therefore hardly anything to pay per year.
You imagine a Spaniard with a business and two sons working for him, he goes autonomo 250 € per month, he employs both his sons at 80 € a month each (part time), he can also employ their wives part time if he wants so that they all have the business together.  None of the others pay tax because there part time and don´t earn enough - only the main autonomo pays tax.  And there you have it, a family business, everyone legal, everyone on the system.
I now HAVE to pay, 175 euros a month to help in OUR business.  We have a music duo as well and I have to do two gigs per month to just pay to the autonomo. Also I am linked to the business, which means even though I pay this amount I cannot legally do anything else other than help my husband.
Does anyone honestly believe that this is NOT directed towards the expats that live in this country.  I have spoken to many Spanish who cannot understand this situaton, have never heard of it before and are disgusted at the way we have been treated.
However, the fight goes on, but it is now mid September and have I heard anything from the Defensor del Pueblo - NO!

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14 Dec 2008 23:09 by Jewel Star rating. 33 posts Send private message

So can a mother working as autonomo employ her son, daughter or other relatives, or is it only the father? 

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16 Dec 2008 15:02 by poohbear Star rating. 12 posts Send private message

Hi there

I am not sure, but knowing the Spanish system its is discriminatory towards women, so perhaps not.  You will have to check with a solicitor.


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