Extension of paternity leave and other measures for equal treatment and opportunities between the sexes
On 7 March last, a series of urgent measures were published in the BOE that aim to strengthen and consolidate the concept of equality in today’s society. This idea is not only reflected in the measures adopted, but also in the wording of the regulation itself, which speaks of birth instead of paternity/maternity or of a working person instead of a worker. We will now announce some of the most relevant ones.
Without a doubt, the star measure of this Royal Decree has been the extension of the duration of the suspension of the contract due to paternity. Therefore:
- From April 1st, paternity by birth of a child (in the case of adoption, special rules apply) will last eight weeks, of which the first two must be enjoyed without interruption immediately after the birth.
- From 1 January 2020, the duration will be 12 weeks, of which the first four must be enjoyed after childbirth, and from 1 January 2021, paternity will be 16 weeks, of which the first six must be enjoyed after childbirth. Furthermore, from this moment on, this right will be individual to the working person without being able to transfer its exercise to the other parent.
- After the periods of enjoyment after childbirth, the rest of the paternity (and maternity) may be distributed, at the will of the working person, in weekly periods to be enjoyed in an accumulated or interrupted manner, in a full-time or part-time regime (subject to agreement with the company), until the child reaches 12 months of age.
- The employer must be notified at least 15 days in advance of each weekly period or, where appropriate, of the accumulation of such periods.
Another measure approved due to the persistence of gender inequalities is that which refers to the Equality Plans. This makes it compulsory for companies with 50 or more employees to have an equality plan (until now, unless the implementing agreement provided otherwise, the obligation was only for companies with more than 250 employees). A transitional period is granted for its achievement and application: companies with more than 50 workers will have 3 years, those with between 100 and 150 workers will have 2 years and for those with between 150 and 250 workers 1 year.
In addition, to attest to their compliance, companies will be obliged to register their equality plans in the Register of Equality Plans for Companies (newly created register).
Another measure designed to monitor equal pay for work of equal value is that workers will have the right to access, through the legal representation of workers in the company, the wage register of their company. This wage register must show the average values of wages, wage supplements and extra-wage payments for a company’s workforce, broken down by sex and distributed by occupational groups, professional categories or jobs of equal value.
In order to control the application of the equality measures, the Law of Infractions and Social Order is modified, classifying the lack of compliance with these measures as a serious offence.
Another novel measure can be seen in the modification of Article 34.8 of the Workers’ Statute, which regulates working hours. The new wording states that workers will have the right to request adjustments to the length and distribution of the working day, in order to improve the reconciliation of family and working life. In the event that the applicable collective bargaining agreement does not regulate the terms of this measure, the company must negotiate with the worker the details of the request for adjustment of the working day for a maximum period of 30 days, and may refuse it on objective grounds.
Finally, we cannot fail to mention two other novelties included in this Royal Decree: the inclusion of nullity in the case of termination in a trial period for pregnant workers or workers in a maternity situation (unless there are reasons not related to pregnancy or maternity) and the recognition of breastfeeding leave for both parents, with the novelty that, if both enjoy it with the same duration and regime, the period of enjoyment may be extended until the infant reaches 12 months with a proportional reduction in salary as from the ninth month.
From the Labour Management Department we remain at your disposal to extend this information or to resolve any doubts that may arise in relation to this article.