Spain: Introduces New Measures for Work-life Balance in accordance with EU Directives
Spain recently implemented the EU Directives 2019/1152 and 2019/1158 through the enactment of Royal Decree-law 5/2023 (Decree) on June 28, 2023, which amends various existing laws relating to labor and employment. This decree introduces various measures aimed at promoting transparent and predictable employment conditions, as well as supporting work-life balance for employees.
The Official State Journal of Spain, known as the BOE, published the Royal Decree-law on June 29, 2023, making it effective. The amendments are as follows-
Extension of the Duration of Leave for Serious Accident/Illness
Previously, under Article 36(b), employees were granted two working days of paid leave in cases such as the birth of a child or the death, accident, or illness of a close relative.
Employees are now entitled to 5 working days of paid leave in situations involving serious accidents or illnesses, hospitalization, or outpatient surgery requiring recovery at home for individuals living with the employee, civil partners, and relatives of the civil partner.
Extension of Unmarried Partner Registration Leave
Previously, the employee was entitled to 15 calendar days of paid leave in case of marriage.
Article 36(a) of the Workers’ Statute has been amended to extend the existing 15 calendar days of paid leave applicable to marriage. The 15 calendar days of paid leave will now also apply to employees in case of de facto partners (civil unions) who are duly registered.
Leave for Partner’s Death
The decree introduces a new provision in the Workers’ Statute, (Article 36b (bis)), which grants employees a compassionate entitlement of 2 working days of paid leave following the death of a spouse, domestic partner, or relatives up to the second degree of consanguinity or affinity. In cases where the worker needs to undertake travel arrangements for this purpose, the leave period will be extended by an additional two working days..
Leave for Force Majeure
The decree introduces a new provision in the Workers’ Statute (Article 36(9)), which provides employees with 4 working days of paid leave in cases of force majeure. This provision applies when the employee’s absence from work is necessary due to urgent and unforeseen family reasons, where the immediate presence of the employee is crucial due to illness or accident.
New Unpaid Parental Leave
The decree introduces a new type of leave i.e. parental leave (under Article 48 bis of the Worker’s Statute), which shall grant employees the right to take 8 weeks of parental leave for the purpose of caring for their children or minors under foster care for a period exceeding 1 year until the child reaches 8 years of age.
The leaves can be taken either continuously or intermittently, on a full-time or part-time basis, in accordance with the regulations specified in the relevant provisions. It is important to note that these leaves are non-transferable and can only be utilized by the individual employee.
An employee is required to notify their employer at least 10 days in advance to take parental leaves by specifying the start and the end date of such leaves or as specified in collective agreements, except in cases of unforeseen circumstances (force majeure). This ensures that both the employee and the employer can effectively plan and manage the leave arrangements.
Reduction or Flexible Working Hours
In accordance with the decree, employees shall now have the right to request a shorter workday when they need to directly care for a family member who is a relative up to the second degree of their spouse or civil partner. This is applicable only if there are no closer relatives available to provide the necessary care.
The right to a shorter workday also extends to employees who need to care for their children or individuals under their care who are up to 26 years old and are suffering from cancer or another serious illness. However, in the case of children, they must have proven a disability level of 65% or higher before reaching the age of 23.
Furthermore, employees with caregiving responsibilities are entitled to flexible working hours if they can demonstrate that they have a duty to care for any of the following:
- A child who is over 12 years old
- Their spouse or civil partner
- Relatives up to the second degree
- Other dependent individuals who reside with the employee and are not able to care of themselves.
Employers must inform their employees of the changes and prepare for the changes by proactively reviewing their current policies and identifying areas that will require updates.