In Spain, the Registro de Empresas Acreditadas (REA) is an administrative risk-prevention instrument since it aims at ensuring that companies comply with certain requirements in the field of prevention of risks at work. In particular, companies shall ensure the fulfillment of the requirements relating to capacity and quality in matters of Occupational Risk-Prevention (ORP), as contained in Royal Decree 1627/1997.
About the REA: Definition and purposes
The REA or Register of Accredited Companies is a public administrative register, regulated in Royal Decree 1109/2007, which implements Law 32/2006 of 18 October 2006. Its purpose is to guarantee certain requirements for companies operating in the construction sector, especially in the field of occupational risk prevention and quality of employment.
Each region in Spain (Comunidad Autónoma) has its own Register of Accredited Companies. With respect to foreign companies, they shall apply for their registration in REA in the region where they are going to carry out its first provision of services in Spain. However, this registration is valid throughout the national territory. Besides, the registration is valid for a period of 3 years from the date of approval.
By means of the registration into REA, a company accredits compliance with the solvency and quality of work requirements listed in the Law on Subcontracting in the Construction Sector (LSC). In particular, a company certifies that:
- has adequate infrastructure and facilities to carry out the contracted activities,
- directly manages works, takes risks, obligations and responsibilities inherent in entrepreneurial activity,
- has an adequate preventive structure.
In addition to the above requirements, a company shall provide documentary evidence that they have the necessary human resources to carry out the work. Moreover, the staff shall have the necessary training on the prevention of occupational hazards.
Finally, an authorized body, such as an external risk prevention service, should accredit this risk-prevention training.
Which companies shall register with the REA
All companies that are either contractors or subcontractors for work on a construction site must register with the REA. Specifically, annex I of Royal Decree 1627/1997 defines a series of works that could be carried out on construction sites.
The list includes: excavation, earthmoving, construction, assembly and disassembly of prefabricated elements, fittings or installations, transformation, rehabilitation, repair, dismantling, demolition, maintenance, upkeep and painting and cleaning work, sanitation.
On the other hand, there is not any obligation to register in the following cases:
- self-employed persons, provided that they do not have employees;
- companies set up by self-employed persons, if there are no employees;
- the promoter of the work.
What requirements companies must fulfill to register with the REA
The companies providing services in the construction sector in Spain shall provide evidence of compliance with the requirements set out in Article 4.2 a) of Law 32/2006, of 18 October. Consequently, they shall provide documentation that proves compliance with the obligations set out in the national rules on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the health and safety of workers at work.
In particular, those following are the requirements companies must fulfill to register themselves with the REA:
- Possess its own productive organisation, have the necessary material and personal means, and use them for the development of the contracted activity;
- Assume the risks, obligations and responsibilities inherent to the development of the business activity;
- Directly exercise the powers of organisation and management over the work carried out by their workers on the site and, in the case of self-employed workers, carry out the work with their own autonomy and responsibility and outside the sphere of organisation and management of the company that has contracted them.
In addition to the above requirements, companies operating on a construction site shall also have to:
- Prove that they have human resources, who have the necessary training in occupational risk prevention, as well as a preventive organisation appropriate to Law 31/1995.
REA registration for foreign companies posting workers to Spain
In the case of a foreign company posting its workers to Spain in the context of a transnational provision of services, the first notification of posting shall be considered as the application for registration in the REA. Indeed, the posting notification must contain a declaration pursuant to the form established in Annex I.A of Royal Decree 1109/2007. The application shall enable the undertaking to take part in the subcontracting process until the date of registration or refusal.
Once the registration has been completed, notifications of the subsequent postings must include, together with the legally required information, the registration number in the REA.
One exception to the obligation to register in the REA for foreign companies concerns postings lasting less than 8 days.
Additional requirements: Opening of a Centro de Trabajo and Registration of a Libro de Subcontratación
Apart from being registered in the REA, foreign companies providing services in the construction industry in Spain must report the opening of a new workplace (a Centro de Trabajo) to the competent labour authority prior to the start of work. This obligation falls solely on employers who are contractors. The notification of the opening of a workplace shall be displayed on the site in a visible place and kept permanently up to date.
In order to request the opening of a new workplace, companies shall submit, among other things, the following information and documentation:
- Número de Inscripción en el Registro de Empresas Acreditadas en el sector de la construcción;
- Health & Safety Plan, which must be approved before the start of the work by the health and safety coordinator;
- Risk Assessment Plan elaborated by the company’s preventive organisation, in case of obras sin proyecto (extemporaneous works), i.e. works of a minur nature, such as the assembly and disassembly of installations.
Furthermore, each contractor, prior to subcontracting with a company or self-employed person for part of the work, must obtain a Subcontracting Book (Libro de Subcontratación). Generally, the labor authority in the province in which the company will operate in Spain is competent to issue the Subcontracting Book.
Inside, the contractor must record, in chronological order from the start of the work, each and every subcontracting carried out on the site with subcontractors and self-employed workers. Hence, the Subcontracting Book is used to control and monitor the subcontracting system.