Pursuant to Royal Decree 1796/2010, natural and legal persons that wish to operate employment agencies must first obtain authorisation from the branch of the Public Employment Service at the place where the agency's business is located. Such authorisation is exclusive and is valid throughout Spain. It is granted either by the State Public Employment Service, if the agency intends to operate in different autonomous communities, or by the branch of the Public Employment Service in the corresponding autonomous community, if the agency intends to operate in only one autonomous community.

Authorised employment agencies might be considered to be entities that collaborate with the Public Employment Service, and as such are entitled to financing from the latter, as long as they sign a cooperation agreement pursuant to the corresponding regulatory provisions. Becoming a collaborator is not obligatory or essential in order to obtain authorisation; however, financing is not available otherwise. The regulatory provisions distinguish between private agencies that collaborate with the Public Employment Service and those that operate independently, even though in practice the latter must also coordinate their activities with the Public Employment Service.

The Public Employment Service is entitled to establish, within its corresponding sphere of influence, the procedure for signing cooperation agreements with authorised agencies. This procedure might involve public subsidies, public contracts or other kinds of legal cooperation initiatives that have been adapted either to the state regulations or to those of the autonomous community in question. The purpose of these agreements is to determine the activities carried out by the employment agencies that collaborate with the Public Employment Service.

Irrespective of whether private employment agencies collaborate officially, they are all bound by the following obligations:

  • They must ensure that an applicant's academic profile and/or profession properly match the characteristics of the job on offer.
  • They must agree to be supervised and inspected by the Public Employment Service, as well as by labour and social security officials.
  • They must state that they are authorised and display their authorisation number (which must appear alongside the name of their company) while carrying out their work.
  • They must submit a report on all activities carried out in the previous financial year during the first quarter of each financial year.
  • They must keep separate accounts of all earnings and expenses incurred in their work, pursuant to the corresponding established regulations.
  • They must supply the Public Employment Service with information which will then be assessed in accordance with regulatory procedures.
  • They must have computer systems that are both compatible and complementary to those of the Public Employment Service.
  • They must comply with the labour and social security legislation.
  • They must respect workers' privacy and dignity and comply with the applicable data protection regulations.
  • They must comply with the rules on universal accessibility regarding people with disabilities. They must ensure, in particular, that an applicant's academic profile and profession match the characteristics of the job on offer, so that people with disabilities are not excluded and have access to employment.
  • They must prevent either direct or indirect discrimination in employment.
  • They must provide free services. The intermediary services that are provided independently by private employment agencies must be free of charge for job hunters (following the 2010 labour law reform). Previously, non-profit agencies were entitled to charge job hunters for their services. Neither profit-making nor non-profit-making agencies can now charge job hunters for their services. Instead, they make money by charging either the employers or the state, in cases where a contract has been signed or an employment initiative programme has been set up (as in other neighbouring countries).

As for the measures needed to determine how financially efficient and socially effective profit-making agencies are, the government is expected to establish certain performance indicators for private employment agencies. The indicators will be assessed every two years so that possible cooperation agreements can be signed between the agencies and the Public Employment Service in autonomous communities. Two possible indicators will focus on

  • the average duration of employment contracts; and
  • the amount of work involved in determining whether an applicant's personal or social characteristics match the job on offer.

For further information on this topic please contact Ricardo Pradas Montilla at Pradas y Cebrián Asociados by telephone (+34 9170 103 90) or email ([email protected]).