Autónomos pay the highest fees in Europe / RAFA GUTIÉRREZ

Spain’s self-employed pay the most expensive fees in Europe

The minimum contribution is 294 euros per month, much higher than the UK and Germany

LUCÍA PALACIOS

More than 3.3 million self-employed ‘autónomos’ in Spain pay the highest social security fees in Europe. But they are offered more protection for their money than their counterparts elsewhere in the European Union.

Reforms to the system are currently under negotiation. The hope is that over a nine-year period the system will move to deducting social security fees according to what is earned, not a flat rate. At the end of the transition, it is envisioned that the fees will range from 184 euros to 1,267 euros per month. Currently the lowest fee that a Spanish autónomos pays is 293.94, unless they are new to the system and can avail of the temporary rate of 60 euros per month.

Currently there are more than 2.7 million self-employed workers who choose to pay the lowest rate. Of these, more than 2.1 million pay 293.94 euros each month, while more than 600,000 are companies that pay 377.87 euros per month. Roughly half a million autónomos have their fee subsidised and pay 60 euros per month. The rest, more than half a million self-employed, have opted for a higher quota. But only 6.6 per cent have opted to pay the maximum amount of 1,266.66 euros per month.

In other European countries the fees are much lower but Spanish autónomos have better protections in place such as access to pensions, temporary disability, maternity and paternity leave or unemployment coverage.

In the UK the fee is 14 euros per month for those self-employed who do not earn more than 600 euros per month. If a worker earns more than that, the fee is 58 euros. However, health insurance costs 3.77 euros a day for people earning up to 8,400 euros a year, or nine per cent of monthly income if earning more than that.

In Germany, a self-employed person with a monthly income below 1,700 euros pays nothing. If above that, the fee is 170 euros per month. As in the United Kingdom, it is compulsory to have health insurance costing between 150 and 240 euros per month.