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Human Resources Glossary

In the HR arena, language can be a barrier for both newcomers and seasoned professionals alike. With diverse and constantly evolving terminology, it can be difficult to keep up to date. But don’t worry, we’re here to help! In this extensive HR dictionary we’ll break down the most important terms in the world of HR so you can navigate with confidence. From recruitment to performance management, from compensation to talent retention, we’ll cover everything you need to know. Let’s dive into the fascinating world of HR!

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111: Form 111 (Modelo 111) is a form used in Spain for declaring all work income information to the tax office (Agencia Tributaria), including tax withholdings and payments.


Absence from work: The action of an employee failing to report to work without justification or prior notice.

Absenteeism: The frequency with which an employee misses work without a valid reason.

Accident at work: Situation suffered by a worker due to or in connection with work, which may or may not occur during working hours, either at their workplace or on the way to/from work (in itinere). 

Agile (method): Management approach that emphasises adaptability, collaboration and incremental delivery of value through short, focused iterations called ‘sprints’. It focuses on effective communication, self-organisation and collaborative decision-making to respond smoothly to changes in the business environment.

Assessment Centre: A facility where tests and exercises are administered to evaluate the skills and competencies of candidates.


Base salary: The minimum amount of money that an employee receives as compensation for their work, before any bonuses or incentives. The amount is set according to the applicable collective agreement and varies according to professional category.

Benefits Review: Periodic evaluation of benefits offered to employees to ensure that these remain competitive and attractive.

Bonus: Additional payment or incentive given to employees for exceptional performance or achievement of objectives.


Career Mobility: Also known as Job Mobility, this refers to the movement of employees across grades, positions, departments or even occupations within an organisation.

Change Management: The process of planning, implementing and monitoring significant changes in an organisation to minimise resistance and maximise successful uptake.

Cheque Gourmet: A benefit offered by some companies that allows employees to pay for discounted meals and food at a wide network of establishments.

Childcare voucher: A benefit offered by some companies to help employees cover their children’s childcare costs, usually tax-free.

Code of Conduct: A set of rules and principles that guide the ethical behaviour of employees in the workplace.

Collective Bargaining: The participation of one or more trade unions in negotiating terms and conditions of employment, wages or other benefits with employers.

Comfort Zone: A situation in which an employee feels comfortable and secure in their current job, potentially resulting in a resistance to change or professional development.

Compensation: The remuneration or financial package employees receive for their work. This may include bonuses and benefits in addition to the base salary.

Compensation and Benefits: Otherwise known as Compensation Package or Pay Package, these are the policies and practices related to remuneration, benefits, incentives and non-monetary compensation offered to employees.

Confidentiality Agreement: A legal document that sets out the conditions under which a party agrees to keep certain information confidential.


Danger Zone: Situation in which an employee is at risk of being laid off due to poor performance, policy violations or other reasons.

Data Protection Law (LOPD in Spanish): Spanish legislation regulating the processing and protection of individuals’ personal data.

Digitisation: The process of converting analogue documents and processes into digital formats to improve efficiency and accessibility of information.

Dismissal Letter: Also known as Letter of Termination. Formal communication from an employer to an employee confirming the termination of their employment contract.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI): Practices and policies that encourage the participation of people from different backgrounds, cultures, genders, ages, abilities, etc., creating an environment where all employees feel valued and respected.


Early retirement: The option for employees to stop working and start receiving retirement benefits at an earlier age than the normal retirement age.

Employee: A person hired by an employer to work in exchange for wages and benefits.

Employee Benefits: Additional compensation provided to employees in addition to their salary, such as health insurance and paid holidays.

Employee Discount Club: A programme offered by companies providing employees with discounts and special offers on products and services from different suppliers.

Employee File: A file containing detailed information about an employee’s work history and performance.

Employee Portal: A digital platform provided by companies for employees to access relevant information about their employment, such as payroll, leave and benefits.

Employee Retention: Strategies and practices designed to keep employees in the organisation and reduce turnover.

Employee Training: Development of skills and knowledge provided by the employer to improve staff job performance.

Employer: A person or entity that hires individuals to work and pays them in exchange for their services.

Employer Branding: A strategy used by companies to build and promote their reputation as an employer that is desirable and attractive to potential talent.

Employment Contract: A legal agreement between an employer and an employee that sets out the terms and conditions of employment.

Employment Documentation: Records and files related to an individual’s employment, including contracts, evaluations, tax forms, payrolls, contract attachments etc.

Employment Discrimination: Also known as Workplace Discrimination. Unfair or unequal treatment of employees because of their gender, race, age or other protected characteristics.

Employment Laws: Rules and regulations established by the government regulating labour relations and working conditions.

Employment Termination Payment (ETP): The final amount paid by an employer to an employee at the end of their employment relationship, which may include outstanding wages, benefits, unused holiday time, and additional compensation.

Equal Employment Opportunity: EEO policies ensure that all persons have equal opportunities for employment and career advancement. Closely aligned with anti-discrimination principles.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI): Guidelines and practices aimed at fostering an inclusive work environment that values and celebrates employee diversity

European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): European Union legislation that sets out rules for the protection and processing of individuals’ personal data within the EU.

Exit Interview: Meeting between an employee who is leaving the company and a member of HR, often also with a member of management. This is used to document and understand reasons why someone is leaving and to conduct a formal farewell.


Family Leave: Paid time off that an employee is entitled to take for family matters, such as caring for a sick child and the birth or adoption of a child.

Final Pay: Final payment that an employee receives upon leaving their job, which may include outstanding salary, unused holiday and severance pay.

Fixed-Term Employment Contract: An employment agreement that has a specific end date rather than being of indefinite duration.

Flexible Benefits Scheme: A programme allowing employees to tailor their benefits package according to their individual needs, e.g. for medical, dental or optical insurance.

Flexible Working Hours: A policy that allows employees to set their own working hours within certain limits.

Full-time contract: An employment agreement which defines the minimum number of hours an employee has to work, and their salary for working those hours. Staff cannot work more than the maximum hours legally allowed.


Grievance at work: A formal complaint filed by an employee regarding a work-related problem or unfair situation.

Gross Income: The total amount of money an employee earns before tax and other deductions.


Health Insurance: Health coverage provided by an employer to its employees to help pay for medical and health care expenses. Important: this benefit is offered on a voluntary basis. It is not mandatory for companies to do so.

Holiday Entitlement: See Paid Holiday

HR Policy: Guidelines and rules established by an organisation to manage its human resources in an effective and consistent manner.

Human Resources (HR): Department or function of an organisation responsible for recruiting, hiring, training and managing employees.


Induction or Integration: The process of introducing a new employee to the culture, policies, procedures and roles of the organisation.

Intellectual Property: Legal rights to intellectual creations (created by the mind), such as inventions, designs and literary works, that may arise in the context of employment.

Internal Newsletter: Internal company publication that notifies employees of company news, updates and events.


Job advertisement: Public announcement advertising a vacant position that a company is seeking to fill.

Job Application: A form that an individual fills out when applying for a position, which includes personal, educational and employment information.

Job dissatisfaction: An employee’s feeling of dissatisfaction or discontent with their job, salary and/or work environment.

Job Relocation: Movement of an employee to a different workplace, including to a possible different geographic location.


Labour Arbitration: A process in which an impartial third party resolves labour disputes between employers and employees.

Labour Dispute: A dispute or disagreement between employers and employees over labour issues, such as wages or working conditions.

Labour Inspection: Examination by a recognised authority to ensure compliance with labour and occupational safety laws in the workplace.

Labour Law: Legislation regulating labour relations between employers and employees, including rights, responsibilities and protections.

Legal Advice: Guidance and assistance provided by a lawyer or legal professional on labour issues.

Letter of Dismissal: Formal document detailing the reasons and circumstances of an employee’s termination of employment.


Maternity/Paternity Leave: A paid period of time that a mother/father is entitled to take, in order to care for and raise a newborn or newly adopted child.

Minimum Wage: The lowest amount of money that an employer is legally obliged to pay its employees per hour of work.


Net Income: The amount of money an employee receives after tax and other deductions have been applied to their gross salary.

Non- Competition Agreement: A contractual agreement in which an employee agrees not to position themselves in a situation of direct competition with the company after the termination of the employment contract for the period of time and under the terms set out in the document.


Occupational Hazards: Potential dangers to the health and safety of employees in the workplace, which must be identified and managed by the employer.

Organisational chart: A graphic representation of the hierarchical and functional structure of an organisation showing the relationships between different departments and employees, including levels of authority and responsibility .

Organisational climate: Employees’ collective perception of the culture, work environment and working conditions within an organisation.

Organisational Culture: The shared values, beliefs and behaviours that characterise an organisation and guide the behaviour of its members.

Organisational Development: Also known as a Change Programme. Planned, long-term efforts to improve organisational effectiveness and health through structural and behavioural interventions.

Organisational Restructuring: Significant changes in the structure of a company, this may include downsizing and reallocation of resources.

Outsourcing: The practice of contracting third parties to perform certain tasks or functions instead of performing them in-house.

Outplacement: the provision of assistance to redundant employees in finding new employment, either as a benefit provided by the employer directly, or through a specialist service.

Overtime: Hours worked beyond regular working hours, which are generally compensated at a higher rate of pay.

Overtime Pay: Additional remuneration given to employees for hours worked beyond their regular hours, or those stipulated in their employment contract.


Paid Holiday: Time off granted to employees on full pay, usually as part of their employment benefits.

Part-Time Employment Contract: An employment agreement in which an employee works fewer hours than those worked by a full-time employee. 

Paternity Leave: See Maternity/Paternity Leave

Pay Equity: Principle of remuneration that ensures that employees receive fair and equitable pay for their work, regardless of their gender, race or other.

Performance Appraisal: Formal process for measuring and evaluating employee performance against established objectives and standards.

Performance Management: Ongoing process of goal setting, evaluation, feedback and skills development to improve individual and organisational performance.

Policy Violation: Action by an employee that breaches established company rules, policies or procedures.

Promotion: The appointment of existing members of staff to a position of greater authority, responsibility and/or salary within the organisation.


Recruitment: The process of identifying, attracting, interviewing and selecting candidates to fill vacancies within an organisation.

Reference Checking: The process of confirming the accuracy and truthfulness of information provided by an applicant by contacting previous employment references.

Remote work: See Telework

Retirement: The period of a person’s life when they stop working, having reached a certain age, and start receiving a pension or retirement benefit.


Seniority: The amount of time an employee has worked for a specific employer.

Settlement Agreement: A document certifying that two parties in dispute have reached an out-of-court settlement.

Severance pay: Severance pay is compensation given to an employee who is laid off, whose job has been terminated, or who has otherwise parted ways with a company.

Shift Work: A work schedule in which employees perform tasks at different times of the day or week, rather than working the traditional Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Sick Leave: Paid time off that an employee is entitled to take due to illness or injury.

Staff Turnover: The frequency with which employees join and leave a company, measured as an annual percentage.


Talent Management: Strategies and practices to identify, develop, retain and motivate employees with outstanding skills and potential.

Teamwork: Collaboration of employees in carrying out shared tasks and projects to achieve organisational goals.

Telecommute: See Telework

Telework: The practice of performing work from a remote location other than the company workplace, using modern communication technologies.

Temporary Employment: A job position that is of limited duration rather than full-time or permanent.

Termination of Employment: The end of an employee’s contract with a company, whether voluntary or involuntary

Termination of Employment Letter: Official written communication informing an employee of the end of their employment. It states the cause, reasons, type and effective date.

Trade Union: A group of employees who join together to maintain and improve their employment conditions.

Training and Development: Activities designed to improve the skills, knowledge and competencies of employees in their current role or to prepare them for future roles.

Turnover Rate: The percentage of employees who voluntarily leave an organisation in a given period of time, usually a year.


Unemployment Benefit: A government provision to help unemployed workers meet their financial needs while they are looking for work.

Union membership: The status of employees belonging to a trade union to protect their labour interests and join forces with other members to have a collective voice.

Unionisation: The process of workers joining a union to protect their labour interests and bargain collectively with employers.

Unpaid Leave: Time off from work that an employee takes without pay, usually to attend to personal or family matters.


Variable Pay: A part of the pay package that can change according to individual or company performance.

Variable Remuneration: See Variable Pay

Voluntary Resignation: Action of an employee choosing to terminate their employment of their own free will, without being dismissed by the employer.


W4-Form: The Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate must be completed by all employees. It provides an employee’s personal information, tax status and withholding allowances 

Whistleblower: A person who reports illegal, unethical or inappropriate activities in the workplace to the appropriate authorities.

Witness: Individual who sees an event or incident in the workplace and can provide testimony about it in the event of a dispute.

Work accident: See accident at work.

Work Area: Designated physical space where employees perform job-related tasks in the workplace. This will vary according to the nature of the work and the organisation.

Workaholic: A person who works excessively and compulsively, often sacrificing personal health and well-being in the process.

Working Conditions: The terms and circumstances under which employees perform their tasks, including hours, pay and working environment.

Working day: A day of the week on which companies operate and employees work, excluding weekends and public holidays.

Workplace Harassment: Abusive, intimidating or humiliating conduct that affects the dignity of a worker and creates a hostile environment in the workplace.

Written Reprimand: A written warning to an employee about unacceptable behaviour or performance.

Wrongful Dismissal: Termination of employment that does not meet legal or justifiable requirements, potentially giving rise to a lawsuit.

In the world of Human Resources, a solid understanding of terminology is essential for success. This glossary provides a solid foundation for both seasoned professionals and newcomers as they navigate the complex landscape of people management. From recruiting to retaining talent, these terms will help you communicate effectively and lead with confidence in your role as an HR professional – now you’re equipped to meet any challenge that comes your way on the road to organisational success!