Can Business Owners Take Sick Leave?

Following on from my last article about the five main concerns of a self-employed person, we touched very briefly

Following on from my last article about the five main concerns of a self-employed person, we touched very briefly on what happens when an autónomo gets ill and is unable to work. This is obviously a major concern because autónomos do not have paid sick leave in the same way employees do, so what alternatives are there in these situations?

Unknown to many, the self-employed do have the right to temporary leave but there are requirements to allow access to this service provided by Social Security so that they are covered in cases of common or job-related illness and accidents (work related or otherwise). In this article, I will only refer to self-employed under the general system and not any other regime (agricultural or dependent self-employed persons).

Under the general system, all monthly contributions include the obligatory concept of temporary incapacity for common contingencies, however, the concepts for professional contingencies for work related accidents and illness is voluntary and only those who carry out a high risk profession are obligated to pay for this concept as well. In the event of illness, it gives the holder the right to claim an amount from social security in order to subsidize their missing income while they are unable to work and for a maximum twelve month period that can be renewed for an additional six months.

To better understand how much they would be due, there are some terms that I will briefly outline:

  1. Work related accident: An accident that has occurred as a direct and immediate consequence to the self-employed persons business activity but does not include accidents that may occur in transit, due to recklessness or those so-called acts of God
  2. Job-related illness: Those contracted as a direct result of the self-employed person’s occupation and must be included in the list detailed under Decree 1995/1978, 12th May
  3. Common illness: As the name denotes, this covers any other sickness unrelated to their occupation


If the cause of temporary leave is due to common illness, the autónomo would have to be properly registered as self-employed, have paid contributions for at least 180 days during the previous 5 years and must be up-to-date in said contributions but these additional requirements are not obligatory for the other two scenarios.

So, down to what everyone wants to know. The money. How much money would be due?

The calculation is the percentage indicated below of the contribution base rate the autónomo paid the month previous to sick leave which is in turn divided by 30. Most self-employed pay the minimum rate which is currently set at 884,40 euros and for which they would pay monthly contributions of approximately 264,44 euros so the below examples are based on that:


Common illness or non-work related accident ·       From day 4 to day 20 of sick leave

·       From day 21



530,64 euros

663,30 euros

Work related accident or job-related illness ·       From the day immediately after 75%* 663,30 euros

* As long as the interested party has contracted this additional cover


It is necessary of course to advise Social Security of these situations and how the business will continue during the time the autónomo is off work as another professional can take over, all activity can cease on a temporary basis or the business can be shut down. In any case, the notification must be sent within 15 days from the date of sick leave and depending on the case, it may be necessary to reiterate periodically that the person is still in no condition to return to work.


For this reason, each autónomo must choose a “mutua” at the time of registry as it forms an obligatory part of their contribution. The mutua is an insurance company that handles the necessary paperwork in these matters so if the autónomo’s GP or a specialist determines he is not fit for work, the mutua must be informed so they can in turn advise Social Security and arrange the necessary payment, if payment is due. This of course cannot be used and abused as a way to simply take time off work or holidays!


Next article as promised, I will talk about how autónomos face retirement.


About Sabrina L. Williams

Although I was born in the UK, I moved to the Canary Islands, Spain at a young age and I haven't looked back. The Canaries is a fantastic place to live, I mean you can do all types of outdoor activities practically all year round because of the great weather. Horses are my poison but the islands are also a superb spot for water sports so they do attract a lot of attention from people around the world. Anyway, enough about that. Back in 2011, I made one of the biggest, scariest yet best decisions I'd ever made and set-up my own business in the middle of a recession. I love what I do as no two days are the same, plus Spanish law keeps me on my toes as it is constantly changing (often without warning!) so there is always something new to learn. As I've branched out in the world of Administrative Consultancy, I decided to create a blog to discuss topics of interest to others in my industry and my clients, share tips and experiences, to see what new ideas people have for improving their businesses and the like so I hope you'll find the time to join me on this venture...

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