Can you request an extension of maternity/paternity leave in the case of a single-parent family?
A single-parent family is usually made up of a mother or a father, although it is possible for the parent to be of either sex, and the child for whom they are responsible. Single-parent families may also include other relatives or non-relatives living in the home, such as grandparents or foster parents.
Single-parent families face unique challenges due to the absence of two parents in the home. These challenges can include financial difficulties, struggles with parenting, stress management, and relationship problems. Single-parent families often have difficulties reconciling work and family life, as well as managing the additional pressure exerted by extended family members.
Therefore, a single-parent family is understood to be one made up of a single parent – with whom the born or adopted child lives – who constitutes the sole breadwinner of the family.
Currently, 16 weeks of rest are recognized, the first six being mandatory. After the equalization of permits for men and women, from January 1, 2021 each of the parents of two-parent families can exercise this right, which is equal and non-transferable for both, without distinction. Until a few months ago, based on this previous criterion, it was considered that a parent who constituted a single parent family should also be able to enjoy 16 weeks.
Can this permission be extended?
A few weeks ago the Spanish Government announced that single-parent families could enjoy up to 18 weeks of leave, recognizing the additional burden of being the sole caregiver for one or more children. This represents a significant increase in the period of time available to these types of families to care for their children when they are born.
In addition, it is important to point out that these new measures also include greater flexibility in the distribution and enjoyment of this benefit. This means that parents can now choose whether they want to enjoy the 18 weeks consecutively or divide them into smaller blocks as long as two periods of at least two weeks each are established and separated by a maximum interval of 6 months.
The new law also provides for an increase in financial benefits. Single-parent families will receive 3,121 euros per month during their 18-week leave; approximately 1,000 euros more than previously established for both men and women belonging to two-parent families.
The most recent interpretation of the courts considers that the protection of the minor must be preserved and that denying the extension of the permit to a single parent would produce a reduction in the attention and care of the child with respect to two-parent families. 80% of single-parent families are made up of women, so expanding it is considered a measure of equality for women and a mechanism for reconciling work and family life when we find ourselves in a situation of vulnerability due to different factors (sex/gender , marital status…), whose main victim is women.
Social Security is denying the extension of the permit.
They are based on the fact that there is no express legal provision of longer duration for single-parent families. However, if the worker files a legal claim, judges are beginning to grant an additional 10 weeks of leave, taking into account that, of the 16 weeks, six are mandatory and non-transferable (recognizing single-parent families 16 more weeks would mean enjoying a total of 32 weeks, compared to the 26 that a two-parent family could enjoy in the event of alternating parents instead of joint enjoyment, which could lead to a breach of the principle of equality).
It is best to continue advocating for extended leave in the court system on behalf of single parent families. There are legal aid groups that can help with this, and filing a lawsuit could result in a judge granting additional weeks of leave beyond the current minimum of six weeks. In addition, it can be beneficial to lobby for changes at the government level. If enough pressure is put on legislators, they can create specific legal provisions that allow longer leave or other forms of support for single-parent families.
In short, if the INSS does not recognize the extension of the permit to a worker who constitutes a single parent family, it is recommended that they file a lawsuit.
To file a claim, the worker must contact an employment lawyer and present the evidence they have that they are entitled to the extension of leave. The lawyer can then review the case and advise on the best course of action, which could include filing a formal complaint with the INSS or taking legal action in court. In addition, the worker should consider seeking advice from local organizations or unions that can help them obtain a permit extension.
Our professionals will advise you on any issue regarding birth permits and child care.