New family law for more equality and less poverty in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
more diverse new family law

MADRID – A new family law on diversity in Spain should support all forms of family other than the traditional one. The Ministry of Social Rights focuses the pillars of extended parental leave, mainly on single mothers. 

Unidas Podemos minister Ione Belarra of the aforementioned ministry announced on Wednesday the proposal to extend the current parental leave from 16 weeks to 6 months. The new law should also provide more social security to families within the LGTBI community and the lowest-income families. 

The proposed new family law has yet to be negotiated with coalition partner PSOE. For the Ministry of Social Rights, extended parental leave is a fundamental item in the budget for 2022. However, for the time being, Belarra is convinced the proposed extended parental leave will be adopted unanimously. 

Progressive leave policy 

Spain has been making changes to parental leave for two years now. From 1 January this year, not only mothers, but also fathers are allowed to take 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave. In 2019 this already went from 5 to 8 weeks. And in 2020 was extended to 12 weeks. Therefore, as of this year, the right to parental leave is the same for women as it is for men. Moreover, an extra two weeks can be taken when twins are born. 

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General child benefit 

Another important law change that the Ministry of Social Rights wants to implement is a universal child benefit for Spanish families. “We believe this is the only way to reduce the current number of children growing up in poverty in Spain. The difference with the family benefits that are already available is that this premium is universal and independent of the family income. It is a premium to which all children in our country are entitled,” said the minister. According to the state secretary, the ministry is following a recommendation from the European Commission that advocates financial support for all families in raising their children. 

Currently, Spanish families with children only enjoy certain tax benefits, but families with the lowest incomes cannot benefit from them. Until recently, these families could still apply for child benefit, but this is now included in the so-called minimum vital income. In short, Spain does not have a general child benefit as most other EU Member States do. 

2 million children grow up in poverty 

According to data from the Ministry of Social Rights, Spain currently invests one percentage point of gross domestic product less on households than the European average. In concrete terms, this amounts to €11billion annually. Meanwhile Spain is number three in Europe when it comes to the number of children growing up in poverty. Children from single-parent families in particular have an increased risk of poverty (46% more). In Spain, more than 2 million children are currently growing up in families living below the poverty line. 

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