Spain set to offer 100% paid week-long leave to care for family members

The Spanish government is set to offer fully paid week-long leaves for workers to care for children, parents, other family members and partners who are unwell, with the country's Minister for Social Rights arguing the Covid-19 pandemic has taught society the importance of caring for loved ones.

leave spain care for family member
The proposal, which will still have to be approved by the Spanish Parliament, would also allow workers to book time off even if the family member's condition isn't serious, as is currently required. Photo: klimkin from Pixabay

Speaking on Thursday at a policy conference at the Caixa Forum in Seville where proposals for a new national framework on family support was presented, Minister for Social Rights and Agenda Ione Belarra said, “Spain must begin to bring itself into line with other European Union countries and establish a care leave of at least seven days a year per person, which is 100 percent paid.”

“Covid,” she added, “has taught us how important it is to take care of ourselves and to have time to take care of others.”

Belarra outlined her hopes that the policy would allow flexibility to caregiving, whether that be taking a paid day off work when caring for sick children, or having the time to be able to take elderly parents to doctor and hospital appointments. 

The permit will allow a worker to “stay at home caring for their children if they’ve spent all night vomiting or with a high temperature” and overall “give peace of mind to families who need to be close to their loved ones”.

Belarra and her government colleague Irene Montero, Minister for Equality, hope the Ley de Familias will extend paid care leave to nine days a year for carers travelling outside their region.

Spanish legislation currently allows for two days paid care leave, and the proposals would bring Spanish legislation on par with other European nations. The European Union recommends a minimum of five days per year.

Crucially, the proposals also extend the paid leave to include care for any cohabitant, not only blood relatives as current legislation allows. 

The proposal, which will still have to be approved by the Spanish Parliament, would also allow workers to book time off even if the family member’s condition isn’t serious, as is currently required.

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Workers in Spain earn 20 percent less than EU average

Despite being one of the largest economies in Europe, Spain may not be a good place to work for those looking to be well compensated as figures reveal workers earn a lot less than some of their European neighbours.

Workers in Spain earn 20 percent less than EU average

People working in Spain earn, on average, €1,751 per month. This is 20 percent less or €443 less than the EU average of €2,194, according to human resource giant Adecco and their monitor on wages, published Tuesday.

Life in Spain is getting more and more expensive due to soaring inflation and rising energy costs, but despite having the highest average salary in history, people in Spain can’t afford as much as they did 13 years ago, due to diminishing purchasing power.

Within the EU, Adecco reported that 15 countries have wages lower than Spain, and 11 have higher. 

Nine European countries have average salaries above €2,500 per month, while in Spain the average salary does not even reach €2,000. This is the case in Finland (€2,603), Sweden (€2,623), Austria (€2,788), Belgium (€2,830), the Netherlands (€2,883), Ireland (€2,920), Germany (€3,003), Denmark (€3,458 ) and Luxembourg (€3,502).

In Germany for example, employees earn on average 42 percent more than in Spain, meaning that workers in Spain would have to work 20 months, almost two years, to be able to earn the same as a German.

There is more than €1,250 difference between what those in Germany are paid and what those in Spain are paid.

On the other hand, there are several EU countries with salaries less than in Spain. Those with average salaries of €1,100 are mostly found in Eastern Europe, with Bulgaria being the EU country with the lowest remuneration of just €562 per month.

This is followed by Romania (€718), Hungary (€798), Poland (€833), Croatia (€863), Latvia (€892), Slovakia (€977), Lithuania (€1,007), Greece (€1,034), Estonia (€1,053) and the Czech Republic (€1,078).

Spain forms part of the middle group that earn more than €1,100 per month but less than €2,500 per month. Those EU countries with salaries similar to Spain include Portugal (€1,106), Cyprus (€1,309), Malta (€1,329), Slovenia (€1,417), Italy (€2,074) and France (€2,446). However, there are of course wide gaps between these countries too.  

Compared to its nearest neighbours, Spanish workers earn 58 percent more than those in Portugal or €645 more per month, but 28.4 percent less than those in France or €695 less each month.