How to become a Labour inspector

You may have had an inspection by the dreaded Inspector Laboral or to give them their official name, Inspector de Trabajo y Seguridad Social. They are the frontline troops of the Ministry of Work & Immigration, the inspectors who turn up at a whim to a company and go through everybody work contracts.

Well, I recently had reason to find out how these hands of God are selected. And it’s not easy.

First of all, you have to study to prepare for the Oposicion, or civil service exam. For an A1 level  civil service exam like this, general wisdom recommends at least 12 months of dedicated study under tutors. Which ain’t cheap.

The actual exam consists of a 4 hour written exam, of common subjects. If you pass this, you have a further 4 hour exam of the specific subject of your selected department (judicial or technical). There are 180 subjects of which at least 90 will enter into your exam (45 in each written exam). You then have an oral exposition: the inspectors select 6 sujects and you then expound upon 4 of them. Plus an exam in either English, French or German. An example of one of the 180 subjects this year is: “Study of the global society: analytical study of examination of societies. Addition to the study of Sociology of the international society. Sociologists and the workplace: origins of sociologists in the workplace. ” Or: “‘Ius Variandi’. Functional mobility of the worker. Carrying out of works of superior and inferior category. Geographical mobility of the common worker. Shorttime geographical movement of the common worker: judicial legislation and social movements of the workers”. For a full list look at the BOE 173 / 18th July 2008. Too many to list.

Now, everybody who passed all this will be sent to Madrid to learn the ins and outs of the Labour department. For a year. At the end of which, there will be a further exam to select the final people who will be inspectors. The year of study is not paid, and you are expected to fund your own costs.

Last year, they only had 50 places. This year they have 70.

So… you study for a year. Then present yourself for an exam at which last year there were some 4500 or 5000 candidates (accounts seem to vary). Then, if you’re selected, you spend another year studying at your own cost. And then fight for a place among the last 50. So that’s just over 1% they hire.

Of course, you then start on a starting salary of around €3000 a month gross. Which is nice. And you can annoy important people by threatening to send them to jail for hiring moroccons for peanuts. And you have judicial immunity for making “normal” mistakes in the workplace – ie, if somebody squints at you, you can arrest the company owner for not giving people the correct contracts and let the judges work it all out.

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