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Basque Country extends paternity leave to equal maternity leave
NEW fathers in the Basque Country will get an equal amount of time off as mothers, the regional government has announced – paternity leave is due to be increased to match maternity leave.
In Spain, women have 18 weeks' leave starting on the day they go into labour or are scheduled to go to hospital for the birth, although in practice, most stop work a few weeks earlier as they are signed off by their doctors.
Men had just a fortnight's paternity leave until January 1 this year, but it has now been extended to four weeks.
The debate has raged for some time as to whether mums and dads should have the same amount of time off, with many pointing out that if fathers were given paid leave to care for new babies, they would have the opportunity to enjoy their newborn child to the full and the mothers would be able to return to work much sooner.
Also, single dads or all-male couples who have a new baby, either their own or adopted, only get four weeks each to spend with their child before they have to try to make arrangements, unless they are financially secure enough for one or both to give up work.
But dissenters point out that mothers should have more time off because they need to recover physically from pregnancy and childbirth, and need to be at home to breastfeed if they wish to and are able to do so.
Basque government spokesman Josu Erkoreka says a new law has resolved the debate in the region – at least for public sector workers.
With maternity and paternity leave both being 18 weeks, the change is 'a great step forward for equality' and enables both parents to get involved in childcare.
The Basque government cannot enforce the 18-week paternity leave in the private sector, but hopes it will follow on from the public sector's example.
Paternity and maternity leave, as descriptions, also cover fostering, adoption and surrogacy.
It is non-transferrable and, for those who are employed, those who decide to take it up are paid 100% of their salary whilst off work.
Erkoreka reveals 90% of women go on maternity leave when they have a child, but only 10% of men take paternity leave when they become fathers, and that the situation 'needs to be reversed'.
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