Spain has, this Tuesday, passed a new Family Law that allows workers to take five days of paid caregiver leave annually and extends family rights to all individuals living under the same roof, regardless of biological relation.
Under this law, employers will be responsible for covering the costs of time off for caring for relatives or cohabitants. Britons with Spanish residency and who pay social security will also be eligible for the care leave. The caregiver can take time off to look after a spouse, children, common-law partner, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, or in-laws.
Employees can also take up to four days off for unforeseeable family emergencies and parents can take up to eight weeks of unpaid leave to care for children during long summer holidays that last more than two months. Parents with children up to three years of age will receive 100 euros per month, per child, benefiting an additional 250,000 families.
Sharing a video on Twitter, the Spanish social affairs minister, Ione Bellara, said that “Too many times we have asked parents to be superheroes without any help from the State. This must change.
"People must be able to form the families they decide, if they want to, and they must choose who they want to share their lives with. And the institutions will be there to accompany them, to protect them and to support them. Because we want a country with freer and more people happy."
The text within the new law ensures full recognition of various types of families in Spain and grants them equal rights. This includes LGBTQ families, families with disabled members, multiple families, adoptive families, reconstituted families, and foster families. The law also establishes a registry for unmarried couples, who will be able to access different permits, such as the 15 days given for marriage, and recognises the right to early care, thus equating the rights of married and common-law couples.
Additionally, the law provides a new recognition and protection framework for LGBTQ families to prevent hate speech against them on television. The new regulation also considers multiple families as a group of special protection and allows the non-pregnant parent to register the children of unmarried couples in the registry.
Under the new law, "large families" will now be recognized as "families with the greatest need for parenting support," rising to over one million. This includes single-parent households with two children, households with two children where an ascendant or descendant has a disability, those headed by a victim of gender violence, or by a spouse who has obtained exclusive guardianship and custody without the right to alimony, and those with two children in which one parent is undergoing hospital treatment for one year or has entered prison.
The Family Law, however, has received mixed reactions. The opposition conservative People's Party and the Spanish judges' council have criticised the bill, while parent groups support it.
The law is expected to go into effect later this year and recognizes single-parent families with two children as large families, providing them with tax deductions and reduced travel and university fees. Previously, these benefits were reserved for families with two parents and three or more children.
The European Union allows for up to five days of unpaid caregiver leave per year. France permits care leave of up to three months with a paid allowance but not on a full salary. In contrast, Germany provides ten days of unpaid leave.
El Pais newspaper reported that Spain's General Council of the Judiciary, the governing body for the nation's judges, expressed concern that the new law could result in ambiguity regarding the legal definition of a family. This proposed legislation is a significant bill that aims to mirror the evolving dynamics of families. As per the National Institute of Statistics, the average number of children per woman in Spain has declined from 2.34 in 1978 to 1.21 in 2021.