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WORKING IN SPAIN

‘Lactancia’: How to get extended parental leave in Spain

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.

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

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. This option is not available to all workers, it will have to be approved by the Convenio Colectivo or negotiated with your employer.

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 elegible 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 elegible. This extra leave is also non-transferible: 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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For members

SPANISH PENSION

How many years do I have to work in Spain to get a pension?

What’s the minimum number of years you have to work in Spain before you can retire? And how about if you want to get a full state pension? Here’s what you need to know. 

How many years do I have to work in Spain to get a pension?

Before we get into the details of retiring and getting a pension in Spain, there’s a word you need to familiarise yourself with: cotizar

Cotizar is a verb which means to make or pay contributions, in the sense of paying tax into Spain’s social security system (la seguridad social). There’s also the noun cotización used to refer to these social security contributions. We mention this early on as when you deal with Spain’s social security system, these words will always come up.  

How long do you have to work in Spain to get a pension?

The minimum number of years you must have worked in Spain (the minimum period of contributions) before you can retire and access a state pension in Spain is 15 years. 

To claim a full Spanish pension, you must have worked and contributed for at least 36 years, although this figure will increase to 37 years by 2027.

If you want to have an idea of how many years you have worked, and how long you have left before being able to get a Spanish pension, the easiest way to find out is by checking your vida laboral (working life) profile here.

Logically, fewer years working and paying into the system means that you will get a smaller pension. 

It isn’t possible for us to give you an exact idea of how much money you can expect to receive as a Spanish pension because it depends on factors such as how much you earned/contributed, the regulatory base, voluntary or involuntary early retirement among a number of other considerations. 

These calculations also change on a yearly basis, but to give you an idea, the maximum contributory pension set by the Spanish government in 2022 is €2,819 gross in 14 payments (one for every month of the year plus 2 extra). 

If you haven’t made enough social security contributions throughout your working life in Spain as a result of not earning enough or having an unstable working life, you could still claim a non-contributory pension, which in 2022 amounts to around €491 a month. 

One of the best ways to find out how much you are likely to get as a pension is by using some of the online calculators that do all the work for you, such as this one

The average monthly pension in Spain in 2021 was €1,189 a month, a figure which has increased from €722 in 2006.

If you have many years until you retire in Spain, keep in mind that it’s a well-known fact that the country’s ageing population is putting increasing pressure on the social security system and this is likely to have a big impact on pensions in the long run.

In other words, the figures mentioned above may well be very different in a decade or two, and considering a private pension plan could also be wise to secure your future in old age. 

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