All about maternity leave in Spain

by Alison Maciejewski
April 15, 2021
a couple talking about maternity leave in spain

Lots of UK citizens work abroad in Spain. If you can make a salary and practise your Spanish, we are all for it! We constantly say the best way to learn Spanish is total immersion. Working in a different country means different rules of course. A job in Barcelona treats maternity leave differently than in Leeds for example. Even if you work at UK companies in Spain, the laws are different. If you plan to have a baby while working in Spain, it’s time to learn the Spanish work laws. Here are the basics of maternity leave in Spain. 

Maternity leave in Spain

Parents have unique employment rights after giving birth in Spain. These entitlements are called maternity leave and paternity leave. For those moving to Spain while expecting, check out our tips for moving to Spain first. Read more below about the rights of UK citizens working in Spain. 

FAQ about maternity leave in Spain

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQ) about maternity leave in Spain and employment rights when returning to the workplace. Do check this information with your employer. 

Do employers legally have to pay maternity leave?

Yes. You are entitled to 100% of your salary while on maternity leave in Spain. Your company cannot dismiss you during this time. The European Commission publishes guides to leave in Spain and more vocabulary online at Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

How many days of leave are you entitled to in Spain?

The number of days received for maternity leave in Spain varies by number of children. Standard maternity leave is 16 weeks for one child. For twins this rises to an 18-week period. 20 weeks are given for triplets. Disability issues warrant another two weeks of leave to make further arrangements. Paternity leave was set at 16 weeks in 2021 as well (previously 12 weeks).

How to prepare to move to Spain

Does maternity leave in Spain affect paid holiday leave?

Maternity leave time is in addition to all ten Spanish national holidays each year. Some Spanish regions have additional local holidays, which you are entitled to as well. You can use your holiday time or part-time hours to extend your leave. 

Are there extended allowances for working mothers?

Yes. There are allowances for ongoing leave time which apply to mothers caring for children until the age of 8 years old. 

Furthermore, you can opt for extended unpaid maternity leave in Spain as long as your original allotment plus unpaid extension add up to less than three years. The requirements in this case are to give two weeks’ notice before your expected return to work. You are not required to finalise these dates before taking leave. Negotiate directly with your employer or HR during your leave.

What are the qualifications for a reduced working day?

To qualify, working mothers must work a certain number of hours per working day. This number is calculated as 1/8 to ½ of the work day. Working mothers also get 1 hour per day during the first 9 months of a baby’s life to attend to breastfeeding or bottle-feeding duties. For premature babies, the 9-month period is pushed back.

What about time off whilst pregnant?

If you take time off during the pregnancy for medical reasons, this time is considered sick pay in Spain and does not affect the 16 weeks.

Basic Spanish for travelling

Other benefits for new mothers?

Yes. Working mothers in Spain choose a monthly payment of €100 (€240 for self-employed workers) or a tax rebate of €1,200 per year for three years. Important to note: The majority of these entitlements also apply to new adoptive parents.

Useful vocabulary for maternity leave in Spain

To talk to your boss or human resources department (HR), here is useful vocabulary for conversations about maternity leave in Spain.

  • permiso de maternidad – maternity leave (literally permission of maternity)
  • el sueldo – salary (typically EUR/month in Spain)
  • permisos retrubuidos/pagados – paid leave
  • reducción de jornada – reduced working day for mothers in Spain
  • excedencia sin sueldo – unpaid (extended) leave
  • la hora de lactancia – 1 hour per day of leave for breastfeeding or bottle-feeding

Learn Spanish for work

You can best negotiate the timing and length of your maternity leave in Spain by learning Spanish. This way you will be able to communicate clearly with your employer and HR officers. Remember, even English companies in Spain may have Spanish-speaking staff. 

Prepare to work abroad in Spain by practising basic Spanish conversation. Register for a 7-day free trial with Lingoda today. 

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