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WORKING IN SPAIN

CONFIRMED: Spain to raise minimum wage to €1,000

Despite opposition from companies and business associations, Spain’s left-wing coalition government has confirmed that the country's minimum wage will be increased up to €1,000 gross over 14 payments, applicable from January 2022. 

spain minimum wage
It's the second minimum wage increase in the last six months in Spain. Photo: Jaime Reina/AFP

Spain’s Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz on Wednesday announced that the Spanish Cabinet will approve an increase of the country’s minimum wage up to €1,000 at their next meeting on February 22nd.

This represents a €35 increase from the current minimum wage of €965. On Tuesday, trade union UGT disclosed the suggested rise would be €31, but Díaz has decided it should be €4 higher to reach a round number of €1,000.

This is a gross figure (pre-tax) which minimum wage full-time workers will receive over 14 payments as is standard in Spain, with an extra payments during the summer and another at Christmas (pagas extras) rather than 12 (one for every month).

 It will also apply retroactively from January 2022, meaning minimum wagers will be paid an extra €35 for work carried out last month as well as this one.

Spain’s government has pushed through the 3.6 percent minimum wage rise thanks to the support of trade unions CCOO and UGT, and despite not receiving the green light during negotiations from business associations CEIE and Cepyme, which have said the move responds more to “political aspirations than financial common sense”. 

Last September, the Spanish government already approved a €15 rise in el salario mínimo from €950 to €965, a bill which was also spearheaded by Yolanda Díaz and which business associations rejected as unfeasible and detrimental to job creation.

“This government fulfils its promises,” Díaz said during a press conference on Wednesday. 

“Despite everything that’s been said, raising the minimum wage has been very positive for our country and our economy.”

According to the Unidas Podemos politician and second Deputy Prime Minister, it’s “science fiction” to argue otherwise because it’s been “empirically” proven that raising wages encourages people to spend more and this in turn helps the economy.

“We are committed to having a work model that’s not based on low wages, competing like this equates to defending a bad economy, precarious businesses and a social model that is profoundly unfair”.

The government’s objective is that by the end of 2023, Spain’s minimum wage will represent around 60 percent of the average salary in the country.

This latest increase will benefits more than 1.8 million workers in Spain, according to the labour ministry, both full-time and part-time workers.

However, the previous rise in minimum wages resulted in the increase of €8 in social security contributions for the country’s self-employed workers up to €294 a month, a figure that could increase further still for many under new plans to raise rates based on real earnings.  

Even though job insecurity and unemployment remain relatively high in Spain, the country already has the seventh highest minimum wage rate in the EU.

Last Thursday, the Spanish government managed to pass a long-awaited labour reform aimed at ending rampant job insecurity with a majority of just one, but it quickly emerged that a PP deputy accidentally voted for the legislation and in doing so tipped the balance in favour of the government.

This will also lead to a salary increase for some 73,000 workers in Spain who belong to multi-service companies that offer cleaning, gardening, maintenance and other services.

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WOMEN'S RIGHTS

Spanish government divided over proposed menstruation leave bill

Talk of abortion policy reform and proposed menstrual leave has dominated Spanish discourse this week, but it’s also dividing Spain’s coalition government.

Spanish government divided over proposed menstruation leave bill

Spain’s PSOE-fronted coalition government recently outlined proposals that have dominated public discourse in the country.

But the legislation, which would allow women over the age of 16 to get abortions without the permission of their parents and introduce ‘menstruation leave’ for those suffering serious period pains, has not only divided Spanish society but the government itself.

The proposals would make Spain a leader in the Western world, and the first European Union member state to introduce menstrual leave, and changes to abortion law would overturn a 2015 law passed by the conservative People’s Party that forced women aged 16 and 17 to obtain parental consent.

The wide-ranging bill would also end VAT on menstrual products, increase the free distribution of them in schools, and allow between three and five days of leave each month for women who experience particularly painful periods.

READ MORE: What are Spain’s abortion laws for foreign residents and visitors?

Menstrual leave

Ángela Rodríguez, the Secretary of State for Equality, told Spanish newspaper El Periódico in March that “it’s important to be clear about what a painful period is – we’re not talking about slight discomfort, but about serious symptoms such as diarrhoea, fever and bad headaches.”

“When there’s a problem that can’t be solved medically, we think it’s very sensible to have temporary sick leave,” she added.

Cabinet politics

The proposals are slated for approval in cabinet next week, and judging by reports in the Spanish media this week, it is far from reaching a consensus. It is believed the intra-cabinet tensions stem not from the changes to abortion and contraception accessibility, but rather the proposed menstrual leave.

The junior coalition partner in government, Podemos, largely supports the bill, but it is believed some in the PSOE ranks are more sceptical about the symbolism and employment effects of the proposed period pain policy.

Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, said this week: “Let me repeat it very clearly: this government believes and is absolutely committed to gender equality and we will never adopt measures that may result in a stigmatisation of women.”

Yet Second Vice President and Minister of Labour, Yolanda Díaz, who is viewed as further to the left than President Pedro Sánchez and other PSOE cabinet ministers, is reportedly “absolutely in favour” of the measure to reform Spain’s “deeply masculinised” labour market.

Sources in the Spanish media have this week also reported that some PSOE cabinet ministers feel the proposed paid leave not only plays up to stereotypes of women, or stigmatises them, like Calviño says, but also places them at a disadvantage in the world of work.

Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá, stated that while the government should seek to improve women’s employment protections, it should also seek to boost their participation in the labour market under “better conditions.”

In that vein, some feel menstrual leave could be used a form of of employment discrimination similarly to how pregnancy has been historically, and the policy would, in that sense, actually be more regressive than progressive in enshrining women’s workplace rights. 

READ MORE: Spain eyes free contraception for under-25’s

Trade unions

Trade unions are also sceptical of the menstrual leave legislation. Cristina Antoñanzas, deputy secretary of UGT, one of Spain’s largest trade unions, has echoed those in the cabinet who feel the proposals could “stigmatise women.” She added that “it does women a disservice.”

Public opinion

A survey run by INTIMINA found that 67 percent of Spanish women are in favour of regulating menstrual leave, but also that 75 percent fear it is “a double-edged sword” that could generate labor discrimination.

The survey also found that 88 percent of women who suffer from disabling and frequent period pain have gone to work despite it. Seventy-one percent admitted that they have normalised working with pain.

Cabinet showdown

The proposed menstrual leave policy will be debated in cabinet next week when the Council of Ministers debates and approves the broader abortion and contraception reforms. According to sources in the Spanish media, and many cabinet ministers themselves, it seems a consensus on menstruation leave is a long way off.




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