A Spaniard who went to court for the right to work flexible hours so he could take his child to nursery has won his case in Madrid.
The judge said the man, named only as José, could arrive at work one hour late because his start time clashed with the time his one-year-old started nursery.
Spaniards work among the longest and most inflexible hours in Europe according to a recent study, which found that 60 percent of Spaniards think that their working hours have a “negative effect” on family life.
José, a chef in Madrid´s State Centre for Brain Injuries, started work at 8am, the same time his child needed to be dropped off at nursery school.
He asked his employer if he could work more flexible hours, which would allow him to arrive at work up to one hour later, but the company refused, arguing that because they started serving breakfast at 8.30am, he was needed in the kitchen.
Jose works alongside five other workers in the kitchen, who supported his request, saying that two people in the kitchen was enough to serve the breakfasts and service would not grind to a halt without him.
José decided to take legal action against his employer with the help of lawyers from Spanish workers’ union, the CSIF.
“The right of the worker should take precedence over the company owing to the minimal impact it would have on service,” the judge said in the landmark ruling.
“The company's alleged organizational difficulties cannot prevail over the legal protection of the family, something that the authorities should ensure in accordance with article 39.1 of the Constitution,” he added.
The issue of how to balance work and family life has surfaced in the run up to Spain´s general election on December 20th.
Ciudadanos (Citizens), which has been soaring up the polls, has proposed that Spain adopt a Swedish-style paternity leave policy that would allow fathers to share time off equally with mothers.