Following the request for single parents to be allowed to take both maternity and paternity leave following the arrival of a new baby, the Supreme Court has firmly rejected the idea.
The verdict was released on Wednesday, March 8, after lawyers had argued that mothers who are raising their children alone, should receive paternity leave as well as maternity leave.
The judge however made it very clear that the current legislation can not be altered in the courts, as the Social Security Benefit Regime is a matter of national law.
For the magistrates, confirming the appealed sentence would mean creating a new contributory benefit in favour of the parents of single-parent families and would harm employers, who would be forced to endure a longer duration of the contractual suspension expressly provided for in the law.
They allege that "An intervention of such a calibre is far from what the constitutional organization of the State entrusts to judges and courts. Their function is the application and interpretation of the norm, but not the creation of the law.”
The Supreme Court argues that “it is up to the legislator to weigh the different interests at stake (joint responsibility for the child care, interest of the minor, interest of the parent) and decide on the most convenient solution.”
The request was put before the Supreme Court because longer leave has already been granted to single mothers by a handful of judges in Spain. In these cases, maternity leave has been extended from 16 to 26 weeks and in some cases 32 weeks.
These women claimed their right to receive two consecutive Social Security benefits by birth so as not to discriminate against their children, with respect to two-parent families. The treasury always denied them double-paid leave, alleging that there was only one benefit per contributor. However, judges from Catalonia, Extremadura, the Valencian Community, or the Basque Country began to agree with them.
Approximately 2 million households in Spain are single-parent families, and this number has been increasing at a rapid rate since 2016. In 80 percent of cases where a home has only one parent, the parent is a mother.
The president of the Association of Single Mothers by Choice (AMSPE), Miriam Tormo, expressed her “deep” disappointment with the ruling, saying “This is another lost opportunity to guarantee fairness and equal treatment for boys and girls regardless of their family structure, as well as to advance in the legal recognition of our family model and in the elimination of the discrimination we endure.”
Dozens of mothers, who are single by choice, are currently fighting in the courts for the extension of the birth permit and confess that the Supreme Court's decision has left them "angry", "astonished", "disappointed", "sad", "disgusted", "raged" and "helpless".