The self-employed collaborator: requirements and advantages of this employment model

It is quite common among SMEs to include family members in the business, as they are people who know the activity quite well, and it is easier for them than hiring someone from outside. However, their hiring is not regulated like that of any salaried worker, but through a special figure, that of the collaborating freelancer, whose regime is different from that of the self-employed. 
This figure entails a series of obligations, but also advantages, such as reductions in Social Security contributions. Below, we explain the keys.

Who can be a self-employed collaborator?

Those workers who are direct relatives of the owner of the company for which they will work, i.e.: spouse, descendants, ascendants and other relatives of the employer, by blood or marriage up to the second degree inclusive and, where appropriate, by adoption, may become self-employed collaborators. Nephews, uncles, aunts, uncles and cousins are not considered direct relatives.
Unmarried couples may also be self-employed collaborators, although they must prove that they have lived together for at least five years, that neither of them is married to another person and that they have not been registered with the RETA in the five years prior to registration. 
In the case of unmarried couples, they must prove that they have been living together for at least 5 years, that neither of them is married to another person and that they are registered in the register of unmarried couples in their community. The self-employed partner must not have been registered with the RETA in the five years prior to this registration.
In addition, in order to register under this formula, the following requirements must be met:
  • The family member who works as a collaborating self-employed worker must work regularly in the business. Therefore, they cannot carry out their activity sporadically. 
  • He/she cannot be registered as an employed professional. 
  • You must be at least 16 years old (minors cannot carry out any type of activity, according to the Workers' Statute). 
  • Must live at the same address as the self-employed holder or be dependent on him/her. 
  • Must be unemployed and registered at the employment office. 

What are the obligations of the self-employed collaborators?

One characteristic of the self-employed collaborators is that their tax obligations are different from those of the rest of the self-employed. For this reason, the Tax Agency puts them on the same footing as employees. This means that they will only have to file an annual personal income tax return and, therefore, will not have to file quarterly personal income tax or VAT returns. 
However, in the eyes of Social Security, this figure is considered as another self-employed person and the same benefits are recognised. In this sense, they will be entitled to unemployment benefits in the same way as the rest of the self-employed.  

What obligations does the self-employed holder have?

On the other hand, the employer who hires the family member as a collaborating self-employed worker also has legal obligations:
  • To assume the payment of Social Security contributions for the family worker. As a collaborating self-employed worker, he/she will be eligible for a 50% discount on the self-employed worker's contribution during the 18 months following registration (147 euros per month), and a 25% discount from the 19th to the 24th month (220.5 euros per month). For these bonuses to be applicable, the worker must not have been registered with the RETA in the previous five years.
  • Draw up the payroll of the self-employed collaborator who has been hired, according to the labour agreement to which he/she is covered. 
  • Enter in the accounts the items destined for salary and contributions.


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