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Spain: Second Phase of Increase in Paternity Leave to Take Effect in January 2020

(Dec. 31, 2019) On January 1, 2020, the second phase of an increase in paternity leave provided for in Royal Decree Law 6/2019 took effect in Spain. The Law, which was adopted on March 7, 2019, originally granted eight weeks of paternity leave effective in April 2019, with a phased increase to 12 weeks on January 1, 2020, and to 16 weeks in 2021.

The leave is a subsidy that allows workers to suspend their employment contract during the leave on the occasion of the birth of a child, adopting a child, or beginning foster care.

All workers, regardless of their sex, qualify for the benefit, which is independent of maternity leave.

Under Decree Law 6/2019, the first two weeks of the leave must be taken uninterruptedly after the birth. The remaining six weeks may be interrupted and begin on the expiration of the mandatory leave after the birth until the child turns 12 months. (Decree Law 6/2019, art. 2(18)(1)(b).) This leave is paid at 100% of the father’s salary and is nontransferable, so if the father does not take it, he cannot transfer it to the mother.

In cases of multiple births, adoption, foster care, or multiple custody, the duration of the leave will be extended by two more weeks for each child after the second child.

In the case of childbirth, paternity leave corresponds exclusively to the parent who did not bear the child. In case of adoption or foster care, paternity leave applies only to one of the parents, according to their choice. However, when maternity leave is taken in full by one of the parents, the right to paternity leave may be exercised only by the other parent.

When there is only one parent, either biological or adoptive, the period of paternity and maternity leave may not be cumulative.

According to the Regulatory Impact Analysis of the Law, the extension of paternity leave to eight weeks in 2019 would mean an increase in spending of 226 million euros (about US$292 million) for the state, while for companies there will be an increase in business fees of about 53 million euros (about US$59 million).