THE future of the outgoing government’s promised law extending paternity leave to four weeks is uncertain.
Scheduled to be introduced in January 2011, the measure was postponed for a year owing to spending cuts and could still come into force unless Mariano Rajoy’s new government modifies the National Budget for 2011.
It is generally assumed that Rajoy will maintain the 2011 Budget, in which case his future government would automatically accept the new paternity leave regulations. Nevertheless, if this is one of the measures due to be slashed in cost-cutting moves, a new law would be required to revoke this particular piece of legislation.
During the election campaign neither the PP nor the PSOE mentioned the fate of extended paternity leave, although the PP did state that it would make this obligatory and not voluntary, as it is at present.
Nevertheless, it failed to specify when this would be introduced or how long leave would last. Fathers have been entitled to paternity leave since the passing of Spain’s Equality Law in 2007, establishing the right to 13 days off after the birth of a child.
It is up to the couple themselves to decide how or when leave should be taken and if the father and employer are in agreement, it can be taken as half-days.
The total number of births for 2011 will reach 490,380 according to the national statistics institute, INE, and in the first nine months of this year the National Social Security Institute (INSS) granted paternity leave to 202,734 fathers, 0.7 per cent fewer than in 2010.
By Linda Hall