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Paternity Leave – Updates April 2019, 2020

From January 1, 2021, paternity leave is equal to maternity leave. Both parents, the mother and the father, will enjoy leave for the birth and care of the child under 16 weeks.

UPDATE 1.3.2019 Royal Decree approved stating Paternity Leave at 8 weeks for 2019, as of April 1st, increasing to 12 in 2020 and 16, so equal to Maternity Leave, in 2021, with increasing part obligatory. Also, the ‘protection’  period against dismissal has been increased to 12 months.

Paternity leave is divided in two parts, 2 weeks (2019 – obligatory leave, 2020 – 4 weeks, 2021 – 6 weeks) immediately after the birth or adoption of a child and (in reality this is ‘permiso de nacimiento / birthleave’) and as per April 2019 another 6 weeks (2020 – 8, 2021 – 10) to be taken as uninterrupted period, whenever suits you best, either during the mother´s maternity leave, or anytime within 12 months after the birth. If the mother is not working, calculate the days with a maternity leave of 16 weeks, as established by law, as if she would be working. The entitlement to birthleave stands, even if the newborn dies. The days mentioned here are the absolute minima, as determined by law. During the obligatory leave you are not allowed to work. We advise you to check the convenio in place for an amplification of both leaves, as many offer this and your employer is obliged to follow up on them.

The father cannot ‘transfer’  any part of his leave to the mother, but the mother can to the father. In 2019, up to 4 weeks  (used to be 10), in 2020 up to 4 weeks and as of 2021 this won’t be possible anymore.

If one of your family members, up to 2nd degree, has a baby, then both female and male worker are entitled to ´birth leave´ of 2 days, immediately after the birth.

Birth Leave

But there is an extension to 20 days possible in the following – less commonly known – cases:

– when the parents already have a ´familia numerosa´

– when with this latest child the family qualifies for ´familia numerosa´

– when one of the family members has an accredited disability of at least 33%

– when the newborn has a disability of at least 33% (as per April 2019: 2 weeks extra leave)

What other protection does ´birth leave´ offer for both mothers and fathers?

As during 12 months (used to be 9) following the birth of your child, you will enjoy the same protection against unjust dismissal as the mother has, if she is working. This protection ensures that you can only be dismissed on valid, objective grounds, and if this is not the case, the courts won´t rule that your dismissal is ´improcedente´ but will declare it nul and void. Meaning that your employer will not ´get away´ with paying the higher indemnization for an ´improcedente´ dismissal, but will have to reinstate you and continue to pay your salary since the day of proposed dismissal and continue to do so.

Also, when the mother is still in their trial period at work when she gets pregnant, she cannot be fired without giving  motivation , other than the pregnancy, contrary to the regular rules for ending a trial period (as per April 2019).

Another ´right´ for parents of a newly born (till 9 months) is the absence of 1 hour of work daily, to take care of the baby, without loss of wages. Since the change in law in April 2019, both the mother, if she is working, can make use of this ´permiso para el cuidado del lactante´ and the father, even if the mother is not working or has never even worked a day in her life. For twins, it´s two hours daily. If more convenient for the parent, he/she can take the time off at the start or end of each working day as well, but will be limited to half an hour then. You do not have to take the time off every day at the same time, nor to give advance notice, and you do not have to ask permission to make use of this right, but you do have to inform your employer in an appropiate manner in case you are.

Some convenios offer the possibility to enjoy this ´permiso para el cuidado del lactante´ in bulk, added on to the official maternity leave for example. As it is a bit more complicated to confirm and to calculate, we would advise to seek the assistance of a gestor laboral to help you with this. Please do NOT turn to the gestor of your employer, as he works for your employer, not for you.

To conclude, both maternity leave and paternity leave are entitlements (when you meet the minimum contribution period – see the link to FAQs), you do not have to ask your employer for permission to take it. The obligatory part takes place immediately after the birth, to take the voluntary part you need to give 15 days notice. The father can also take his voluntary leave in blocks of weeks, instead of 8 consecutive weeks. Again, giving the employer 15 days notice for each block. Only in cases where both mother and father work for the same company and a simultaneous absence could cause serious problems at work, can the employer refuse simultaneous ‘birth leave’  but will have to do so giving reasons, and in writing. The father can also take the voluntary leave part-time (e.g. working half days), but for this he does need the employer’s permission.


Please note: The information provided is based upon our understanding of current legislation. It is not legal advice but is provided freely to enable you to be properly informed. We recommend that if you are considering taking action, you should seek professional advice.

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