The Spanish congress has voted to extend paid paternity leave from 13 days to 16 weeks, equal to that awarded to women.
Until now, fathers were entitled to just 13 consecutive days off work with the arrival of a new member of the family, be it through birth, fostering or adoption, plus two days to be present at the birth itself.
Under existing arrangements, mothers in Spain have been entitled to the first 16 weeks off on full pay, of which they could transfer up to 10 weeks to the father. Women are also entitled to a full year’s unpaid leave once their paid maternity leave had expired.
Under the current law, new mothers in Spain are entitled to six weeks paid maternity leave with the option of a further ten weeks that could be shared with the father, although according to data from Spain’s ministry of employment, only1.8 percent of Spanish fathers take up the option.
The proposal, which has been mooted by various parties since 2009, was finally put forward by the anti-austerity Podemos grouping on the grounds that both the Spanish constitution and European law prohibit discrimination on grounds of gender.
The motion was passed on Wednesday morning with 173 in favour and only two against, after the conservative Popular Party (PP) and Ciudadanos both abstained, but now needs to be drafted into law.
Ciudadanos argued that the new measure didn’t go far enough and are instead pushing for a Swedish-style paternity leave policy that would extend paid parental leave to eight weeks each with the option of sharing a further ten weeks between mother and father.