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'Lactancia': How to get extended parental leave in Spain

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'Lactancia': How to get extended parental leave in Spain
Photo: Jaye Haych on Unsplash

Many mothers and fathers in Spain are unaware that they can apply for a "permiso de lactancia", or an extended parental leave for breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. Here's who is eligible and how to apply.


Spain became a world leader when it comes to equal parental leave between both parents in 2021, with a law increasing paternity leave to 16 weeks – the same amount as previously only reserved for new mothers.

But new parents in Spain have other rights in the period following the birth of a child that many people are unaware of. These include the right to a reduced working day and extended leave for breastfeeding and bottle-feeding.

Read also: How to apply for parental leave in Spain


Known as permiso de lactancia or cuidado del hijo lactante, this allows new parents to take one hour off each day to feed their newborn child. This extra time can be taken during the child's first nine months, and can be doubled or tripled in the case of a multiple birth.

Although in principle this nursing leave is for taking some time off work during the day to feed your child, it can also be used in different ways:

- Taking an hour break during your working day, or two half hours, to feed your baby. In other words, you are allowed to take breaks from work during the day after you go back to work following your parental leave.

- Reducing your working day by half an hour. If you want to get to work a bit later in the morning or leave a bit earlier, you can reduce your working day by half an hour. In this case, the time you take off for feeding is not one hour, but only half an hour.

- Accumulated nursing leave. Instead of taking one hour off from work every day, you can also accumulate the hours in order to take entire days off for feeding. 

How many hours or days can I take off to feed my baby?

This depends on whether you want to extend it into an hour every day, or whether you are accumulating the hours into days. You can take 1 hour (or two half hours) for every working day until your child is nine months old. For example, if you go back to work after 4 months, you can take an hour off a day for the remaining five months. One hour per 22 working days a month would be a total of 110 hours in five months, which would be around 14 days.

Is this only for breastfeeding mothers?

No. Both parents are eligible for permiso de lactancia in the case that they are employed by a company. This extra time can't be claimed on Social Security or if you are receiving unemployment benefits. Freelancers or autónomos are also not eligible. This extra leave is also non-transferable: only one parent can take it and can't pass it on to the other half way through.


Who pays for this nursing leave?

The cost of permiso de lactancia falls on the employer, not the Spanish social security system. The employee will earn their usual salary during this extra leave.

Can your company refuse to grant nursing leave?

No. Your company is obliged to grant nursing leave, since it's a basic worker's right. The employer is also not allowed to reduce it, or make the employee use it in a specific way.

How do I apply for it?

To get nursing leave you need to write a letter to your employer with at least 15 days notice. You should state the start and end date of your nursing leave, and specify if you are opting for a reduced working day or lactancia acumulada (accumulating hours into full days off).



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