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Reader question: Can I take time off work if my child is sick in Spain?

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Reader question: Can I take time off work if my child is sick in Spain?
Children's fever syrups are running particularly short in Europe right now. Photo: Victoria Model / Pixabay

Balancing work and childcare can be a tricky situation, but it can be made even more difficult when your kid is sick. What are your legal rights when this happens? Are you allowed to take time off work?


During this time of year in particular, there are lots of colds, flu and other viruses such as Covid-19 going around and unfortunately, kids are more susceptible to catching them from mixing with other children at nurseries or schools.


There's nothing worse than trying to get ready for work while trying to get the kids up too and suddenly your little one is complaining of a sore throat and feels hot to the touch. You know there’s no way they can go to nursery and you have no time to organise alternative childcare at this late notice, so your only option is to take the day off work.

But are you allowed to just call your employer and take time off for such a situation when you’re not sick yourself?

The short answer is yes. Spanish legislation currently allows for four days of paid care leave, whether you need to look after your child or another member of your family.

New legislation 

Previously the Spanish government offered two days of paid care leave a year to parents, but in June 2023 this was increased to four as part of one of the new leave of absence schemes spearheaded by Podemos leader and Minister of Social Rights headed Ione Belarra. 

This "force majeure" leave can be used on an hourly basis and amount to up to a total of four days per year for each parent for "urgent family reasons". It is fully remunerated and is intended for short-term incidents, such as if a parent is ill and needs to be accompanied to the doctor or if a child becomes ill and one of the parents needs to stay at home to look after the child.

There is another new leave of absence that is unpaid and can last up to eight weeks a year, can be taken continuously or discontinuously, full-time or part-time, until the child reaches the age of 8.

It is designed, for example, to provide a solution for parents to cope with adaptation periods in nurseries and schools or for periods without classes, namely during the summer or Christmas period.

And there is one more new paid leave of absence which lasts five days but is meant to be used in the event of a serious accident or illness, hospitalisation or surgery without hospitalisation that requires rest when it affects a relative or a person with whom they live.

If your child has the flu or a cold and you've used up your leave of absence days, you may be able to ask to work from home so that you can stay home with your child. 

READ MORE: How parents in Spain can balance work and kids during the holidays


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