ISSN 2330-717X

Spain: Government Approves Measures To Foster Equality At Work

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The Spanish government has extended paternity leave to 16 weeks and makes equality plans more widespread for companies. It also established incentives for property rentals and regulated the rights of Spanish citizens and British residents in Spain in the event of Brexit without an agreement.

The Council of Ministers approved the Royal Decree-Law on urgent measures to guarantee equal treatment and opportunities at work, which will be submitted to Parliament for its ratification.

The Vice-Prime Minister of the Government, Minister for the Presidency, Parliamentary Relations and Equality, Carmen Calvo, considered that this new legislation will improve work/home reconciliation, eliminate salary discrimination, reduce the pension gap between men and women and make equality plans in companies more widespread.

The Royal Decree-Law extends leave following the birth of a child, and care for children to progressively bring conditions for both parents into line. The progenitor other than the biological mother will have leave extended to 16 weeks. Carmen Calvo specified that the term for the implementation of this measure will be three years “to allow sufficient time for companies to adapt”. Accordingly, this leave will stand at eight weeks in 2019, 12 weeks in 2020 and reach 16 weeks in 2021.

As regards the wage gap between men and women, Carmen Calvo explained that, at present, this stands at around 23% in some work areas and that “many women are not even aware that wage discrimination may exist”. Accordingly, and in compliance with EU legislation, it is established that companies with more than 50 workers must keep a register of their salary tables, which male and female workers may access through their trade union representative or their staff delegate.

Companies with more than 50 workers must also draw up and apply an equality plan, which means extending the obligation contained in the Constitutional Law on effective equality between men and women, which has only affected those companies with more than 200 workers until now.

In addition, the new legislation includes recovering the financing of social security contributions under the special convention for non-professional carers of those people in a situation of long-term care charged to Central Government. Accordingly, the contributions for workers, principally women, that leave their work to care for other people will not be interrupted, which leads to a lower pension, specifically “between 300 and 370 euros less”, reported the minister.

Royal Decree-Law on urgent housing measures

The government also approved the Royal Decree-Law on housing, with measures designed to incentivise property rentals, offer greater certainty and security for tenants and provide support for the most vulnerable groups.

Carmen Calvo explained that the text includes the key content of the Royal Decree-Law approved back in December, which was not ratified by the Lower House, and incorporates new features “that strengthen a far-reaching social intent on the right to housing and its social use”.

Among these, it provides for the creation, within a term of eight months, of a State reference index on the price of property rents, which will be tied into the rise in the CPI, and which stipulates that contracts not registered in the Property Register will have effects on third-party relations such that when a rental property is sold, the tenant is protected.

Some of the previous measures remain, such as the increase in the minimum legal term in which the tenant may remain in the rental property from three to five years, the modification of the regulation on Property Tax to foster the rental market, and that a majority of three-fifths of owners may limit the use of properties in the residential area for tourist purposes.

As regards eviction procedures, Carmen Calvo stressed that the text continues to reflect the government’s concern at providing a response to those affected. “The obligation will exist to notify these circumstances to social services, so that no-one finds themselves in extreme situations of insecurity”, she claimed.

Rights of Spanish and British citizens in the event of Brexit without an agreement

The Council of Ministers approved the Royal Decree-Law adopting contingency measures in the event of the potential withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union without the agreement provided for in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. This law would only come into force in the event of a withdrawal without an agreement.

The aim of the measures is to guarantee the rights of Spanish citizens and of the 300,000 British citizens resident in Spain, their legal certainty and their protection on matters of social security and healthcare.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Josep Borrell, recalled that the British Parliament will vote in the coming days on whether to accept the Withdrawal Treaty, whether it leaves the EU without an agreement and whether it applies for an extension to allow time to reach a decision.

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