The situation of Spanish families has evolved greatly over the past few decades, with the dual-earner model becoming predominant. Support to families with children has, however, not kept pace. Spain's share of GDP devoted to family support is among the lowest in Europe and families have to bear the bulk of the costs of raising children. To make things worse, the economic crisis is taking its toll in Spain, with unemployment and child poverty on the rise. Although in line with the Barcelona objectives, childcare provision is not yet sufficient to improve parents' work-life balance.
Spanish families have been severely affected by the economic crisis. In June 2011 the total unemployment rate stood at 21% and there were over 1.3 million families without a working member. Since 2008, male and female employment rates have dropped by two and nine percentage points respectively. In 2011, 64.7% of men and 52% of women worked compared to 70.1% and 58.5% respectively EU-wide. Employment rates of parents of children under six were also lower than the EU average: 56.1% for mothers and 79.7% for fathers versus 58.9 and 88.7 in the EU.
There is a relatively low take-up of flexible employment: 23.5% of women and 5.4% of men work part time, below the EU averages of 32.1% and 8.7% in 2011. The gender pay gap is similar to the EU average of 16.4% in 2010.
Presented with a list of policy measures that could improve their work-life balance, around 90% of Spanish respondents to a 2008 Eurobarometer called for more flexible childcare arrangements. In 2010, 48% of children under three and 95% of children between three and school age were enrolled in formal childcare. These figures are in line with EU Barcelona objectives but mask a significant shortfall in care provision, since as many as 18% of all children under three and 44% of children between three and six are only enrolled parttime.
Since the 1990 education reform, children can be enrolled in school from age three. School is free of charge and compulsory from the age of six. Most schools are open from nine in the morning to five in the afternoon. Care for children under the age of three, however, takes place primarily in informal contexts (family or babysitters). According to a 2006 EU report, one third of women under the age of 30 with children or other persons in their care say they would not be able to work without the support of other relatives, mainly grandparents.
Maternity leave lasts for 16 weeks and is paid at 100% of the mother’s latest salary. Fathers are entitled to 13 working days of paternity leave (15 in the event of multiple births). This is to be increased to four weeks after 2013.
After the end of maternity leave, one of the parents is entitled to reduce the daily working time by one hour, until the child is nine months old. Initially, this time had the purpose of allowing the mother to breastfeed her baby. With time, it has simply become a right that either of the parents can take and devote to any purpose they want. It is also possible to accumulate the hours and take them as full days off.
Parents can also take unpaid parental leave to care for their child until the age of three. Leave can be taken on a part-time basis (with a proportional cut in the parents’ salaries) until their child’s eighth birthday. After parental leave, parents are entitled to a job with the same salary and pension rights as they had before the leave.
Spain is among the least generous countries in Europe when it comes to government-funded help for families. In 2009, public spending on family benefits represented only 1.5% of GDP, well below the EU average of 2.3%. Family benefits are essentially targeted at low-income families or families with disabled children.The information in the country profile was last updated in December 2012.
Child poverty levels have soared over the past two years and in 2011, 27.2% of Spanish children below the age of 18 are at risk of poverty. Vulnerable families are facing a worsening situation, according to FEDAIA (Federació d'Entitats d'Atenció i d'Educació a la Infància i l' Adolescència), a federation principally active in Catalonia. Its member organisations have reported new phenomena, such as school absenteeism and psychological problems caused by disruption in the family home.campaign