The birth rate in Spain (number of births per thousand inhabitants in a year) was in 2016 8, 8‰ (very low), and the fertility rate (average number of children per woman) of 1.34.
If we add to this the fact that the age of parenthood has been delayed until the age of 31, we see that the outlook is not very encouraging.
And it doesn’t surprise us: having children in Spain is not easy. Salaries are low and working conditions do not help to be able to enjoy the family.
Act 39/1999 on the reconciliation of work and family life grants a series of rights to parents to ensure that Spaniards can continue to bring small children to this world without having to depend on their grandparents.
Today we talk about these measures of work-life balance that are listed in the Act 39/1999, so you know what your rights are if you are or are going to be mommy or daddy.
What is work-life balance?
Before moving on to see the exact measures of work-life balance that exist in Spain, we want to explain to you what it is.
The work-family life balance are all the measures and policies that takes a company to ensure that employees can combine their work with their life and family obligations.
These are measures that increase the productivity of the workers, since they are happier and make more use of the time they work. In addition, they also serve to attract and retain talent, due to the loyalty of workers who are satisfied and happy with their work environment.
8 measures to help you reconcile work and family
Now yes, let’s talk about the 8 measures of work-life balance that exist in Spain so that dads and moms can reconcile their work with their families.
1. Maternity leave
In Spain, the maternity leave is 16 weeks (and not four months as many people think). During these 16 weeks, the working mother will receive 100% of her salary, although she must have contributed at least 180 days during the last seven years or 360 days in her entire working life. There are exceptions: if the mother is under 21 years of age when the baby is born, no minimum contribution period is required and, if she is between 21 and 26, this requirement is reduced to 90 days.
If the mother (regardless of her age) does not work or has not contributed enough to receive the usual benefit, she will be entitled to receive the IPREM (public indicator of income with multiple effects) for 42 calendar days from the date of birth, i.e. 532.51€ per month. In some cases, such as large families, single-parent families, disability or multiple part, these 42 days may be extended by 14 days.
Of the 16 weeks of maternity leave, the first six weeks after the birth must be taken by the mother. However, the other ten weeks can be shared with their partner.
2. Paternity leave
Fortunately, on 1st January 2017, the extension of paternity leave to one month came into force (remember that before they could only have two weeks).
Paternity leave is a paid entitlement and fathers are entitled to 100% of their regulatory base for the month it lasts. To apply, you must be registered with social security and have paid at least 180 days’ contributions in the last 7 years, or 360 days’ contributions during your working life.
3. Breastfeeding leave
Working mothers are entitled to one hour’s absence from work (for every eight hours of work) for breastfeeding a child less than nine months. If they want, they can divide this time into two halves of half an hour.
The duration of the breastfeeding leave will be increased proportionally in cases of a multiple birth.
It is the worker, and she alone, who decides when she wants to take this break, which can also be accumulated in the form of days, so that she can take following the maternity leave.
4. Safety measures for pregnant and lactating
In addition to breastfeeding leave, Spain recognises, through the Law on the Prevention of Occupational Hazards, the safety recommendations established by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for breastfeeding or pregnant women.
Among many other aspects, this Act prohibits pregnant or nursing women from working at night and overtime, as well as work involving lifting or pushing heavy weights or requiring excessive physical effort.
If the pregnant or nursing woman is employed in a job that the doctor certifies as dangerous, she must be transferred, without any reduction in salary, to another job that is not harmful to her condition.
5. Reduction in working hours
Another of the measures to reconcile work and family life in Spain is the reduction in working hours due to maternity or paternity. This is one of the rights to which workers who have been parents are most frequently entitled, but also one of the rights that causes most problems with employers.
The Spanish Reconciliation Act collects the right of fathers and mothers to reduce their day to take care of children under eight years old. But it a not remunerated right, that means, that it will be accompanied by a reduction in salary proportional to the hours that are left of work.
The reduction of the worker’s working day may be set at between one eighth and one half of the same, as a maximum. It is important to know that this right extends to relatives up to the second degree of consanguinity or affinity who do not support themselves.
It should be noted that, to apply for the job reduction, it is necessary to have a minimum of one year of seniority in the company. This reduction will top last for three years in a row for each child and two for each relative, accumulative up to a maximum of five years.
6. Modification of the working day
Parents may request to the company an adaptation of the working hours without the need of having to reduce the day and, therefore, neither the salary. However, the company is to decide whether to grant it or not.
This right is recognised in labour legislation, but through Article 34.8 of the 2012 Workers’ Statute (and not through Article 37.5, which provides for the reduction of working hours), which means that the concession will depend on what is established in the applicable collective agreement or, failing that, the agreement between the parties.
7. Leaves of absence
Leaves of absence requested for maternity, paternity, or for care of a sick family member, or a dependent, have guaranteed the right of the worker to keep the job for at least a year.
Leave of absence counts as contributions if it is to care for children (up to two years) or other family members (one year).
8. Aid for self-employed
One of the groups that is worse off in terms of measures to reconcile work and family life is, as is almost always the case, the self-employed.
Although they have some labour rights, they are unfortunately not comparable to those of employees.
They may take paid maternity or paternity leave, provided that they meet the same requirements as employees in relation to the minimum contribution period (a minimum of 180 days in the last 7 years, or 360 days of contributions throughout their working lives), and they receive the corresponding remuneration according to the regulatory basis for which they were contributing before the start of their leave.
As you can see, there are certain measures of reconciliation of work and family life that can help you enjoy more time with your kids. Did you know them all?