The Social Security Legal Relationship.
Currently, it is not under discussion that providing protection in situations of need that citizens may suffer is a role of the State. It states in Article 1 of the Constitution that "Spain is founded on a Social and Democratic State of Law", and, insofar as it is a "social" State, it can not abandon the maintenance of people who are unable to support themselves with their own job to private initiative.
On these foundations, a framework of "social insurances" are built, which only becomes an authentic Social Security system when there is a general conviction of the fact that solidarity in the area of work can only ever be truly effective if it is channeled and organised through a system in which the State, via the Law, specifies the situations worthy of protection and the contribution that active workers must make for said protection. It is also necessary for the State to keep watch over, through public organisations, the recognition of these rights and the fulfilment of these obligations.
A Social Security System does not truly exist if it is not based on this public dimension: the rights and obligations that give rise to the System are "public", insofar as they originate from the Law and not from agreement between private citizens, and the System is also "public", insofar as it is entrusted to organisations that are subordinate to the State.
It is the Law, therefore, that determines and governs the "legal relationship" between citizens and the Social Security. This relationship -always aimed at the social protection of citizens in situations of need- requires both parties, the State and the citizen, to carry out certain activities, which may by very diverse in their nature, depending on the citizen´s position with regard to the Social Security; an employer, active worker or benefit recipient.
At contributory level, a distinction is normally made between three areas in which this legal relationship is implemented: affiliation, contribution and protection:
AFFILIATION or the initial acquisition of ACTIVE CONTRIBUTOR STATUS in the Social Security, and the subsequent acquisitions constitute the mechanism provided by the State for determining, while the worker has active contributor status, the persons who are responsible for making contributions, and also the entitlements that said worker is acquiring through their "contributions" to the System.
CONTRIBUTION is the principal mechanism provided by the Law for funding the contributory level of the Social Security. If the ACTIVE CONTRIBUTOR STATUS was acquired as an employed worker, the employer is responsible for paying in the contributions. If the ACTIVE CONTRIBUTOR STATUS was acquired as a self-employed worker, the worker has to pay them in themselves.
The System established for the State to recognise situations of need when they occur, and provide the aforementioned public benefits to deal with said need is considered to be a "PROTECTIVE relationship".