Your rights for balancing working and family life

We'll explain the rights that are established by law for balancing family and working life

When you have a child, your priorities change. One of the main objectives is undoubtedly to achieve a balance between your work and your new family life. To achieve that balance, the law contemplates different leave allowances and balancing measures for parents.

1. Maternity leave

The birth of a child, as well as adopting or fostering for more than one year a child who is either under 6 years old or is under 18 years old and has difficulties incorporating into the family, gives the mother the right to 16 weeks of paid leave.

  • If the child has a disability, leave granted is 18 weeks.
  • In the event of multiple births, 2 weeks are added on for each child after the second.
  • In the event of premature birth or the child's hospitalization, the mother can take breaks in the leave period after the first 6 mandatory weeks. However, if the baby remains hospitalized for more than seven days, the maternity leave can be extended on an exceptional basis for as long as the baby remains in hospital, up to 13 additional weeks. 

In the case of biological maternity

  • The first six weeks are mandatory for mothers on a full-time contract.
  • The remaining 10 weeks can be passed to the father or be shared and taken simultaneously.
  • Those 10 weeks can be enjoyed on a full-time or part-time basis, so long as an agreement is reached with the employer. 

In the cases of adoption and fostering:

  • If both parents work, they can distribute their leave of absence either in parallel or consecutively. In any case, the periods must be uninterrupted and cannot total more than 16 weeks.
  • All leave can be taken on a full-time or part-time basis, so long as an agreement is reached with the employer.
  • In the case of international adoptions, when the parents need to travel to the baby's place of birth, the leave of absence can start up to 4 weeks before the date the adoption is legally declared. 

Maternity benefit 

For the duration of leave, the employee receives a financial benefit from Social Security that is 100% of her basic income (i.e. a daily amount obtained from dividing pre-tax salary by 30).

  • Work as an employee, as a self-employed worker or as a housekeeper and be up to date with the payment of Social Security contributions.
  • Be able to prove that you have been paying social security contributions for the following periods:
    • Under 21 at the time of birth: not required.
    • Between 21 and 26 at the time of birth: for 90 days in the last 7 years, or for 180 days throughout your working life.
    • Over 26: for 180 days in the last 7 years or for 360 days throughout your working life.

2. Paternity leave

Working fathers have the right to four interrupted weeks of paternity leave. In the event of becoming a parent to multiple children, 2 days are added for every child starting from the second one.

  • This is independent of whether or not the mother shares their maternity leave with the father. In other words, the father can take both leaves of absence if the parents come to this agreement.
  • The leave of absence can be taken in full or as a reduction in working hours, provided an agreement has been reached with the employer. 

When can it be taken?

  • Paternity leave can be taken in the period between when the leave for the birth of a child ends (2 days as a general rule) or from when a court decision of adoption is declared, up until the mother's maternity leave ends.
  • Immediately after the maternity leave. 

Paternity benefit

During leave, the employee receives from Social Security 100% of their basic income.


  • Work as an employee, as a self-employed worker or as a housekeeper and be up to date with the payment of Social Security contributions.
  • Have paid social security contributions for 180 days in the last 7 years, or for 360 days throughout your working life.


3. Infant feeding leave

Article 37.4 of the Workers' Statute establishes that the father or the mother (only one of them) can request for breastfeeding leave to feed the baby up to 9 months (or more, if the collective bargaining agreement offers better rights). This leave does not affect salary.

  • The leave consists of one hour of absence from work, which may be divided into two fractions (two half hours).
  • There is an option to replace this leave with a half-hour reduction in working hours at the beginning or end of the day.
  • Many collective labor agreements offer workers the possibility to accumulate their leave in order to take full days off and thus extend the length of the maternity leave. This option can also be agreed with the employer.

4. Reduction in working hours for childcare

Both parents have right to request reduced working hours, with a proportional decrease in salary, without their role or rights being affected.

  • This reduction in working hours can be requested by both male and female workers who have legal guardianship and direct care of a child under 12 years old.
  • The working day can be reduced by a minimum of one-eighth and up to a maximum of half.
  • The worker has the right to decide the schedule and duration of the reduction. Nevertheless, collective agreements may establish criteria corresponding with labor conciliation and the productive or organizational needs of the business.
  • The worker's salary is reduced in proportion to the reduction in working hours.
  • During the first two years of the reduction in working hours, social security contributions are calculated based on a full-time schedule for the purposes of retirement, maternity and paternity leave, temporary disability, etc.

5. Reduction in working hours for childcare of minors affected by a severe illness

When both parents work and are responsible for a child who is affected by cancer or any other severe illness and who requires long-term hospitalization or permanent and direct care, one of the parents has the right to a reduction in working hours with the following characteristics:

  • The reduction is for at least half of their working day.
  • The leave will last the same period of time as the hospitalization or ongoing treatment.
  • Since the salary decreases in proportion to the reduction in working hours, the Social Security Institute compensates the loss of income with an allowance equivalent to 100% of their regulatory base income established for occupational incapacity in proportion to the reduction in working hours.
  • The collective labor agreement can establish the situations in which this reduction may be accumulated in order to provide full days off.

6. Unpaid leave of absence

Both the father and the mother can request unpaid leave of absence until the child reaches the age of 3 years, without it affecting their length of service in the company.

  • It can be requested as soon as the child is born or the official adoption or fostering decision is made.
  • During the first year of leave of absence for childcare, the individual's job is protected. After this time, a job is reserved within the same professional group or equivalent category.
  • For large families, the job is protected for 15 months for families in general, or 18 months for those in the special category.
  • The three years of leave of absence are included in the Social Security contribution period.
  • The leave of absence has no bearing on the employee's length of service in the company.
  • The worker is entitled to attend professional training courses during their leave of absence.
  • The leave of absence can be enjoyed in installments.

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