New fathers in Spain can now enjoy 16 weeks paternity leave

Good news for new parents in Spain this year as the country’s new paternity law came into force on January 1st 2021.

New fathers in Spain can now enjoy 16 weeks paternity leave
Image: PublicDomainImages/Pixabay

Paternity leave in Spain is now 16 weeks, equal to that of maternity leave, allowing new fathers to earn 100 percent of their regulatory base salary.

Paternity leave in Spain is now much better than some of its European neighbours, such as France, where paternity leave is currently just two weeks (although it is set to change to 28 days later on this year), Portugal where it's 15 days and the UK where it's also two weeks. 

Before the new year in Spain, fathers were only allowed 12 weeks leave, while mothers were entitled to the first 16 weeks off on full pay, of which they could transfer up to 10 weeks to the father.

This means that both mothers and fathers can now enjoy equal amounts of time with their new babies.

Who is eligible?

New fathers can apply for this paternity leave whether they become a father through the birth of a new child, adoption or foster care. The paternity leave can only be applied for by individuals and is non-transferable.

Self-employed or autónomo dads are also eligible for the same 16 weeks paid paternity leave. 

What does the new paternity leave cover?

It covers 16 weeks of paid paternity leave. Fathers will receive 100 percent of their regulatory base salary, which will be exempt from personal income tax.

The regulatory base is calculated by considering the contribution base of the month prior to the leave, excluding payments for overtime, divided by the number of days of which the contribution corresponds. This is then multiplied by the number of days of paternity leave, which in this case is 90 days.

In the case of the self employed, the six previous months will be considered in order to work out the regulatory base. 

Six of the weeks must be taken simultaneously and right after the birth or arrival of the child and the other 10 can be added on to this or taken in minimum weekly periods throughout the first year.

Are there any requirements?

Yes, to receive paternity benefits you must have contributed to the social security for at least 180 days in the last seven years or for 360 days in your working life.

How do I apply for paternity leave?

You can apply for it online through your social security portal with your digital certificate or with your username and password with [email protected] If you don’t have any of these, you can go to your local Social Security Information and Attention Centre (CAISS) by prior appointment and fill out an application form.

Find out more on how to get your digital certificate or get a [email protected] here.

Do I get any extra leave for unusual circumstances?

Yes, if you have multiple births, a preterm delivery that requires hospitalisation or your child has disability, or you foster or adopt, each parent will receive an extra week’s leave, taking the total to 17 weeks each.

Paternity leave has been slowly increasing in Spain since it was first introduced in 2007 with just 13 days.

Social Security said that they expect this new law to help 236,000 parents this year. 

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Spain could raise parental leave to six months for both mothers and fathers

Spain’s Social Rights Minister wants to increase the parental leave Spanish mums and dads get for every newborn from the current 16 weeks to 24 weeks.

Spain could raise parental leave to six months for both mothers and fathers
Photo: David Straight/Unsplash

Spain’s Minister of Social Rights Ione Belarra announced on Wednesday that her department intends to extend parental leave for fathers and mothers to 24 weeks, equal to six months for each parent. 

“This Ministry is going to fight for extending permits to six months and to extend child education from 0 to 3 years in the public network of infant schools,” Belarra said at a conference on Spain’s upcoming Family Diversity Law, which the six-month parental leave would form part of. 

According to Belarra, who has taken over from Pablo Iglesias as the head of the hard-left party Unidas Podemos, the Spanish government has “unfinished business with the families of newborn babies”.

“I’m aware of how incredibly difficult it is for many families to find a balance between parenting and work, especially in the first years of their child’s life”, she said, and “how difficult it is for many mothers to leave four-month-old babies with other people to go back to their jobs”.

Spain increased its paternity leave for fathers to 16 weeks in January 2021, equalling the leave mothers get, both of which are remunerated at 100 percent of their regulatory base salary.

The country has also come a long way in terms of parental leave, as in 2006 new dads were still only given two days off to be with their newborns.

READ MORE: New fathers in Spain can now enjoy 16 weeks paternity leave

But according to Belarra (pictured below), the current amount of parental leave is still causing “difficulties” when raising babies, in the country with the second lowest birth rate in the EU.


According to ministerial sources, the fact that a concrete amount of parental leave has been put forward as part of the Family Diversity draft law should facilitate negotiations with the socialist PSOE party that Unidas Podemos forms a government coalition with. 

Belarra is also pushing for child benefits for parents as a means of encouraging couples who are not having children “for financial reasons” or because “they don’t have a suitable home or stable job”. 

The child benefit should be available even to those who don’t make social security contributions, who as things stand can’t access government parenting aid, the Social Rights Minister added.

“This family diversity law goes to the root of the problem, to protect the material living conditions of families and to make it a little easier to raise kids.

“It cannot be that the fourth economy of the EU allocates almost one point less of its GDP to support their families than the average.

“In Spain, having children severely increases the risk of being poor,” the minister concluded.

A total of 22,182 fewer babies were born in Spain in 2020, with the latest fertility index showing that the average number of children per woman in the country is only 1.18.