Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Contract fun

Last October my boss asked me to sign a bit of paper. Neither he nor I understood it but when I signed it I became legally employed.

Because I'm thinking about getting a car loan I asked the bank what I would need. The main thing is my nomina or pay slip so I asked my boss how I could get hold of my pay slips. He said I should go and see his asesor, a sort of accountant.

At the asesor's office they gave me a bunch of pay slips, dating from now back to October and a copy of my contract. I was asked to sign copies of each one and to get my boss to sign them too as he'd not yet seen them!

With a bit of time to decipher the legal language of the contract I worked out my pay, social security and tax rates and I think I got an idea of how the contract system works. If I'm right there are standard contracts for different sorts of work called models. They relate to types of work so office based work might be type 400 for part time junior, 401 for full time junior etc. whilst contracts for mine workers might be 600, 601 etc. Each type of contract records basic detail - the length of the contract if it's part time, name, address, social security number etc with some variations from model to model. The contract then ties in to a certain "convenio" or agreement. I think that there are standard agreements for most jobs but that if, for instance, I worked for Ford my Union would negotiate better conditions for me than the basic convenio for the job. In either case my contract model such and such would get most of its detail about sick pay, dismissal, holiday etc from the convenio.

So I went back to the asesor to ask to see the convenio that related to my contract and also to ask about my tax situation. I've been paying pay as you earn type tax but, because I only worked three months of the year I don't think I will actually have any tax to pay so I may be due a refund. It was a difficult conversation as the person who normally deals with our firm wasn't there and I was grappling with the concept of the contractual process as well as the Spanish. The woman who checked it out didn't understand why there were pay slips for June when my contract expired in May (!) and my question about seeing the convenio threw her all together. Yes she supposed there was a convenio but she had no idea where she could find a copy of it. She asked me to come back when our usual person was there and she put my various questions on a "Post it" to pass on to our person. I am pretty sure I will need to start again with our person as she will never have seen the "Post it".

Very Spanish. A very official looking process with very smart forms but the people who you expect to understand them don't really know much more than you despite handling these things all the time. There will, eventually, be a resolution but it will just take a few more visits.

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