Extension of the Paternity Leave

On the 1rst of March 2019 the Council of Ministers approved to extend the duration of paternity leave progressively until 2021. The decree law proposes that from the 1rst of April 2019 fathers (or second parents in the case of same-sex couples) enjoy 8 weeks of leave instead of the 5 they currently have. The measure approved by the Executive also foresees that in 2020 they will be extended to 12 weeks and finally, in January 2021, the 16 weeks that mothers already have will be matched and that will equal the European average.

At the beginning of 2019, the paternity leave was of 5 weeks voluntary and non-transferable and that of the mothers of 6 weeks compulsory and non-transferable. In addition, there were 10 transferable weeks available that in the case of heterosexual couples women used in more than 98% of cases. Decree Law 6/2019, of March 1, intends to equate maternity and paternity leave progressively until they are equal.

Thus, as of April 1, 2019 or the second parent, he had 3 more weeks than he had been able to enjoy until then. As of January 1, 2020, the second parent has had 12 weeks of birth permit. The first 4 weeks of parental rest should be used uninterruptedly and full-time just after delivery or the administrative decision in cases of adoption or foster care. The remaining 8 weeks can be enjoyed at any time, interrupted or uninterruptedly, part-time or full-time (with a prior agreement of the company) during the child’s first year of life.

As stated above, the proposal is progressive, so that 2021 will be extended to 4 more weeks, thus reaching a paternity leave of 16 weeks that will mean matching the permits, matching the maternity leave that had been valid so far.

In cases of adoption or foster care, each parent will have 6 weeks of compulsory and uninterrupted leave right after the court decision. From these, they will have 16 weeks of voluntary permission to distribute individually (with a maximum of 10 weeks accumulable by a single person) and uninterruptedly during the 12 months after the judicial resolution.

Reaching 16 weeks of 100% paid paternity leave would make Spain one of the most advanced EU countries in this area. The objective of this reform is to favor joint responsibility and, consequently, equality between men and women both in the labor market and in the home. Studies show that the fact that the father enjoys a permission to take care of the child strengthens the bond with this time that facilitates knowing the care tasks that, in general, mainly develop the mothers.

If we take a look at other European countries, the Nordic countries are the leaders since they have the most egalitarian social policies, thus facilitating the labor and family reconciliation of the two parents. In the case of Norway, parents now have 16 weeks of paternity leave. In addition, each couple can divide the year of leave by birth according to their needs. Sweden has 18 months to distribute between the couple, with a minimum of 90 days for a parent. In Iceland, the parent or other parent has 90 days of leave.

It should be noted that, although other countries have more days of paternity leave or leave, in most cases they are not paid 100%. The other parent, whether male or female, is reduced part of their salary or even takes a leave of absence in the case of longer-term permits. This fact can be dissuasive when asking for a casualty, thus harming the objective of achieving equality between men and women.