HR alert: What you need to know about the new paternity leave in Spain

January 25, 2021

paternity leave spain

Great news for dads and other partners in Spain: 2021 brings four additional weeks of paid paternity leave. Spain’s paternity leave policy saw another phased increase at the start of 2021 under RD-Law 6/2019 of Urgent Measures. As of January 1, paternity leave in Spain is 16 weeks, making the country’s paternity leave equal to what mothers currently receive for maternity leave.  

But if you’re interested in parsing out the details of this legislation—created to guarantee equal treatment and opportunities for men and women in employment—you’re in for a lot of legalese. Here are some of the key elements of RD-Law 6/2019 as they relate to Spain’s paternity leave. 

The progression of paternity leave and RD-Law 6/2019  

Prior to this law, paternity leave in Spain was only five weeks. RD-Law 6/2019 took a phased approach to bringing paternity leave up to speed with the county’s maternity leave. 

  • March 7, 2019: The law took effect, providing eight weeks of paid paternity leave beginning April 2019 
  • January 1, 2020: The first phased increase took effect, providing 12 weeks of paid paternity leave 
  • January 1, 2021: Spain implemented another phase, providing 16 weeks of paid paternity leave 

Who can take paternity leave in Spain? 

The legislation explains that “paternity leave corresponds exclusively to the parent who did not bear the child.” In other words, the biological mother is not eligible for paternity leave—the other parent is. If a couple has adopted or will be fostering a child, they get to choose which parent is eligible for paternity leave (and which will take maternity leave instead). 

Single parent? Unfortunately, the benefits of both maternity leave and paternity leave cannot be added up.  

Part-time workers are eligible for paternity leave, granting them equal status to their full-time counterparts.  

What is Spain’s paternity leave policy? 

In this latest phase of the law, the other parent has 16 weeks of paternity leave to use in the baby’s first year of life—but must take six weeks of that leave immediately after delivery.  

Paternity leave can be extended by two weeks in the case of multiple births. 

When it comes to adoption or foster care, each parent is granted six weeks of leave to enjoy immediately after the adoption or foster care arrangement is legally finalized. Adoptive and foster care parents are also eligible for a total of 16 weeks to split between them during the first 12 months. The caveat here is that the parents must share the time—neither one may enjoy more than 10 weeks of their allotted time. 

All employees on parental leave are given special protection against dismissal. 

How much is paternity leave in Spain? 

An employee on paternity leave in Spain is paid 100% of their salary—as long as they have made the appropriate contributions to the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social, Spain’s social security agency. 

Who pays for paternity leave? 

There’s good news for businesses—it’s the social security office that pays the employee’s subsidy during paternity leave. However, employers are responsible for social taxes and withholdings to fund the program and must cover the costs of the employee’s responsibilities during leave. 

What happens if a business doesn’t follow Spain’s paternity leave policy? 

As RD-Law 6/2019 illustrates, Spanish labor law has strong worker protections, which require great attention to detail. Employment law and employee benefits can be convoluted—and they’re constantly changing. But disregard these worker protections at your own peril. Companies that do not provide paternity leave for workers that qualify may face litigation. 

How an employer of record can help 

If you’re looking to hire workers in Spain but aren’t highly familiar with local legislation and collective bargaining agreements (known as convenio colectivo), it helps to work with an employer of record—sometimes referred to as an international PEO—that has in-country HR expertise.  

An employer of record in Spain can: 

  • Keep you up to date with employment regulations as they change  
  • Make sure every contract, for every worker, meets all requirements 
  • Provide guidance about cultural norms and hiring best practices 

Learn more about how an employer of record in Spain can help you navigate changes in local employment law. 


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