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Press section / Quarterly Labour Costs Survey (QLCS)

Last datum Labour cost rate
Annual rate (%)
Wage cost rate
Annual rate (%)
2nd quarter 2017 -0.2 Gráfica serie -0.1 Gráfica serie


The quarterly labour cost survey measures the quarterly evolution of labour costs met by companies and gross salaries of employees.

The QLCS makes up part of the set of short term indicators that the European Commission requires of member states at the request of the European Central Bank in order to verify that the nominal convergence of major economic groups is accompanied by a process of real convergence in labour cost terms by work unit.

Questionnaires filled in directly by a sample of 19.500 establishments from the whole country is taken as a reference for its calculation. Among there are all companies with more than 500 employees. In each account all associated employees are investigated.

QLCS History

The Quarterly Labour Cost Survey, which up to the first quarter of 2004 was called the Labour Cost Index has been published in Spain since 2001. When it started to be published it replaced the wages in industry and services survey that had been carried out in the INE since 1963.

The QLCS has had the same framework and sample plan as the wages in industry and services survey. The sample size is broadened in order to cover establishments with less than five employees and the sectors of education, health and other social services. Moreover, this improves its coverage with the inclusion of labour cost components different to wages.

As of the first quarter of 2009, the data from the QLCS shall be published under the new National Classification of Economic Activities (NCEA-2009). In addition, the year 2008 is defined as the new base year, and other innovations and technological improvements are included.

Quarterly differences

Payments made by the employer may vary considerable from one quarter to another due to irregular payments (extraordinary payments, bonuses, etc.). The volume of work carried out, hours effectively worked, may also vary (for example, employers may remain absent for longer during the third quarter due to summer holidays). Therefore, average cost quarterly series similarly show irregular behaviour.


Employee - This is any person linked to the productive unit by means of a work contract, independently of their modality and who has contributed for at least one day in the reference period. Employees are classified according to their type of working day into full time employees (working the normal company working day) and part time (work a lesser working day to the one considered normal).

Labour cost - This is the total cost incurred by the employer due to use of the work factor. This includes the wage cost plus other costs.

Wage cost - This includes all gross remuneration (in cash or in kind), made to workers for the professional provision of their labour services for others. This includes both the effective work or computable rest periods and work. The total wage cost includes the base salary, salary supplements, payments for overtime, extraordinary payments and delayed payments.

Other costs - Other costs made by companies include non-salary payments (payments for temporary disability, unemployment, indemnity for dismissal, acquisition of work clothes, travel and food costs, distance bonus and urban transport, etc). and obligatory contributions to social security.

Working day - This is the number of hours that each worker dedicates to carrying out their labour activity. The following concepts are distinguished:

  • Agreed hours: These are the hours legally established by verbal agreement, individual contract or collective agreement between the employee and the company.
  • Effective hours: These are the hours really worked both in normal work periods and extraordinary work periods.
  • Hours not worked: These are hours not worked during the working day for any reason (holidays, temporary disability, maternity, personal reasons, labour conflict, absenteeism, lockout, etc.).