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I’ve been told I should become self-employed to teach. Is that so? Is it worth it?

[:en]First of all this article goes mainly for European teachers or people with a work permit. Teachers from non European countries or those under student visas will have either to work on a “cash in hand” basis (many do) or with contracts of less than 20 hours for student visas.

For those teachers from European countries or with work permits (not easy to get), they have various ways to work in Spain. Many academies, during their interview with teachers, will recommend them to become self-employed, or autónomo as it is called in Spain. Do you really need to be self employed? Is it worth it? I’ll try to clarify these questions.

It is obviously something which involves several factors. So the answer depends on each case. But, in general terms, I would NOT recommend to be self employed. I am, because Spanish legislation forces company owners to be self employed (even if you have a pay roll), but I wouldn’t want want it for anyone. Lets see why:

  • Companies want you to become self employed because it’s cheaper for them. They save on taxes, as it’s you who will be paying them.
    By the way, if that is the case, do not accept the same rate as a teacher under a contract. Your rate should be higher.
  • It is not only cheaper to hire a self employed teacher, but also cheaper and easier to fire him. As the teacher is, to all effects,  another company, you just have to tell the teacher you won’t be requiring his services any more. No extra costs, no “finiquito”, no unlawful dismissal.
  • You will be told there is a flat rate of 50€ per month (for about 18 months). That is true, and it’s great if you are going to be here for a year or two. Not if you are planning to stay as the rate will go up without any alert from the administration.
    A normal rate, after that period of about 1-2 years is around 250€ independently of your earnings.
  • You will need a legal advisor to take care of your taxes. You don’t want to miss the deadlines, or not give in a form in time. Fines come fast and are not cheap. So a legal advisor is an extra cost per month.
  • If, for ANY reason, they can’t charge you the monthly amount, you will have to pay a 60% charge. No excuses, even if it was the bank’s cause. And you won’t be eligible for the flat rate anymore.
  • Access to unemployment is much easier if you are an employee.
  • Even if it may not necessarily be so, you do feel more secure under a contract.
  • Many banks will not remove extra bank account charges for self employed workers. Others do, so ask before you open an account.
  • If you ever ask for a mortgage, or a loan, and say you are self employed, you will see in the look of the face of the clerk that the chances will be they won’t give it to you. You are considered too risky.
  • Companies should deduct 15% (7% the first years) from you. This is not a disadvantage, but I didn’t know where to fit it in and it is important.

So, in my opinion, for most teachers it won’t be worth the trouble.

However, some teachers might find it worth it for the following reasons:

  • You will be able to access company classes direcetly, which are the best paid in the business. Companies will want a bill at the end of the month and you can only do that if you are self employed.
  • If you earn over a certain amount it will be worth it. It is better to talk to an accountant about that, but teachers who earn more than 1200€ a month or so, find it’s worth it.
  • It is true that the flat rate, if you are going to stay in Spain less than two years, is an attractive offer.
  • You might find it easier to get hired by both academies and directly by companies, using phrases like “hire me, I’m self employed and, if you don’t like me, you can always drop me“.
  • You can bill several academies and companies.
  • You can be self employed working on several areas. So you can be a teacher , an artist or a translator and produce bills for all those areas.
  • You give in the bill and get paid (if there are no delays). You don’t have to wait for the academy to pay you.
  • You can easily work as an ad-hoc substitute teacher as academies can work with you directly, without having to do a contract. You do your hours and get paid.
  • You can launder money from your private classes from “black money” into legal money by billing your private students.
  • You don’t have to pay VAT (language is exempt from VAT in Spain) so that reduces costs and paperwork.

By the way, if you are working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, just for an academy, under the same conditions as other employees, you are considered a “false autonomo”. You should have a contract, it makes no sense to be self employed there.

So, to conclude, I would not recommend a new teacher to become self employed, There is no need.
However, if you’ve been here for a while, have several clients, want to be able to work directly with client companies or are earning a certain amount of money, it might be worth it. But check if first with an accountant.





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