International Newsletter

Spain: New Laws on Gender Pay, Working Time, and “Right to Disconnect”

May 20, 2019

In the first weeks of March, two royal decrees were passed that will substantially affect labor relations—one on gender pay and the other on employers’ obligations relating to working time.

Equal Treatment

Royal Decree-Law 6/2091, on equal treatment for men and women, amends seven regulations with the purpose of achieving equality in working conditions between men and women, particularly regarding the still-existing pay gap, and the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation.

The key amendments of this reform include the following:

  • The obligation to prepare equality plans is extended to companies with 50 or more employees. A new registry will be created with which these plans must be registered.
  • Every company must register the disaggregated salary information by gender and professional classification. This register must be accessible to employees through their legal representatives.
  • Companies must pay the same salary to employees carrying out equal value jobs, under the parameters defined by the law.
  • Companies with 50 or more employees that identify a pay gap of 25 percent or more between men and women must provide an objective and reasonable justification for it.
  • An increase in the standard of proof is required in objective dismissal cases.
  • The suspension of an employment contract due to childbirth is extended to 16 weeks for each parent. This suspension went into effect on April 1, 2019, and will be gradually implement until it is fully effective in 2021.
  • The right to adjust and rearrange working hours and the way of working to achieve a work-life balance, without having to reduce working hours and salary, is strengthened.

Registering Working Time

The second relevant regulation is Royal Decree-Law 8/2019, on urgent social protection measures aimed at fighting job insecurity with regard to the working day. This royal decree law introduces several interesting measures concerning social security, but one obligation stands out: companies must have the necessary means to record (register) the working day of each employee. The Workers Statute has been amended accordingly, and the Labor Infringements and Sanctions Act classifies noncompliance with this obligation as a serious offense.

The issue of registering working days has been debated in the courts, by the labor inspectorate and the unions since 2015. Royal Decree-Law 8/2019 stipulates that all employers, without exception, are obliged to keep a daily register of the working days of their employees. This obligation went into effect on May 12, 2019, and by that date, all companies should have implemented the most suitable method for registering their employees’ working days.

Right to Disconnect

In another recent change to Spanish employment law, Spain has joined the growing list of European countries legislating for a “right to disconnect,” meaning a right for employees to refrain from working outside of working hours. In December 2018, Spanish legislation went into effect that gives employees the right to disconnect from work-related electronic communications (a.k.a. digital disconnection) outside the working day in order to guarantee work-life balance. The law relies on collective bargaining provisions and companies’ internal policies to regulate the ways to exercise this new right, as well as any training and awareness-raising initiatives for employees on the reasonable use of information technology tools, especially focused on teleworking.

Written by Ana Campos Rodríguez Tembleque of Cuatrecasas and Roger James of Ogletree Deakins

© 2019 Cuatrecasas and Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak and Stewart, P.C.