The "Game of Thrones" of the labor reform: News on equality between women and men (Royal Decree Law 6/2019). First part.

Labor news linked to political changes and electoral proposals always opens the debate between the need or not to address a labor counter-reform (the one of 2012 has been going on for a long time without significant changes) and the "game of thrones" that can be transferred following the metaphor of the television series to the power struggle between the different political parties to address a reform (partial or global) of nuclear aspects of the territory of labor relations in our country. This "game of thrones" in the workplace has recently had two new episodes of reform with the promulgation of two Royal Decree Laws on equal opportunities between women and men and on social protection, promotion of permanent contracts and , especially, registration of the day.

The "Game of Thrones" of the labor reform: News regarding equality between women and men (Royal Decree Law 6/2019). First part.

The figures for our labor market, according to data from the Ministry of Labor, Migration and Social Security, show some differences between women and men, among others: (i) a lower rate of female activity (men 64,29% and women 52,94, 54,60%); (ii) a lower employment rate (men 43,11% and women 74,76%); (iii) a higher part-time rate (92,34% of part-time contracts are signed by women); (iv) greater use of leave for childcare (7,66% of women and only 83,66% of men) and for family care (16,34% of women and 22,34% of men); (v) a significant gender pay gap (2016% globally in 14,68 and 1305,99% per hour worked according to EUROSTAT); (vi) a gap in contributions and social protection that causes the average amount of retirement to be 868,80 euros for men and 4,7 euros for women (vii) a visible difference in the number of daily hours dedicated to the home and the family (1,5 in women and XNUMX in men).  
With this background, on March 8, 2019, the Royal Decree Law of March 1 on urgent measures for equal treatment and opportunities between women and men came into force. It follows the path of Organic Law 3/2007, of March 22, for the effective equality of women and men, which incorporated equality plans and new labor rights (reconciliation of work, family and personal life whose use it has focused on women for reasons of maternity and child and / or family care).  

However, 12 years after the approval of the 2007 Law, there have been advances in the path of equality in companies, in society and in families but, as is well stated in the Statement of Motives of the Decree Law, with Discrete results and still important records of concentration of women in part-time jobs and in sectors and / or positions with lower wages (horizontal and vertical segregation).
The new standard focuses on three areas of the workplace: 

(i) the equal pay on the basis of sex in jobs of equal value imposing as mandatory the salary audits and reinforcing the equality plans that now, in addition, they must register and are mandatory in companies with more than 50 workers, although with a temporary calendar depending on the volume of workforce and creating the obligation to negotiate the diagnosis of equality, now with union intervention and that includes new focuses of attention such as salary audits and equal pay, which will force to carry out the equivalence test of jobs of equal value, situations of female underrepresentation or the jointly responsible exercise of conciliation rights, in within the Negotiating Commission of the plan and the obligation to keep a salary record in companies with the average values ​​of salaries, salary supplements and extra salary perceptions disaggregated by sex and distributed by groups, categories or positions of equal value; 

(ii) the co-responsibility which includes as a milestone the homologation of obligations and rights of working fathers and mothers in caso of births with suspension of the contract by birth of the parents' contract for up to a period of 16 weeks (although with progressive application until January 1, 2021 that makes the birth permits used by men to be 8 weeks from April 1 2019; 12 weeks in 2020; and 16 weeks in 2021) replacing the reference to maternity and paternity by birth; Y 

(iii) the creation of the right to request for mothers and fathers with children until they reach 12 years of age the adaptation of the distribution and duration of the working day, including the right to provide remote work, with the purpose of conciliating through a procedure that is delegated to collective bargaining and, failing that, is set by the rule and whose discrepancies will be resolved by the Courts.
Some new features in the field of Social Security are also regulated: (i) maternity and paternity benefits become “child birth and care allowance”(Arts. 178 to 180 LGSS)(ii) a new benefit for co-responsibility in infant care (arts. 183-185 LGSS); and (iii) a special agreement for non-professional caregivers of people in a situation of dependency (DA 14th and DT 31st LGSS). 

In this context, companies will increasingly have to take real equality between women and men more seriously because their obligations increase. Salary audits to identify and mitigate the salary gap and the salary registry of the average values ​​and its obligatory transparency and the internal control of that information by the unions and the external control by the Labor Inspectorate and the Courts will imply that equality It will once again be the focus of complaints and labor lawsuits and, even, it opens a potential risk area for companies of having to face "class actions" in the workplace due to pay differences in jobs of equal value even though the workers are not individualized. in a procedure. In addition, the equalization in the duration of birth permits between women and women in its double approach as a right and as an obligation (of child care) tries to advance co-responsibility and overcome the wall of biological motherhood in many professional careers.  

In summary, a new regulatory milestone with new obligations for companies and more costs (although they are located primarily in the State via Social Security benefits) and, although it never rains to everyone's liking, it can be firmly stated that this Decree Law places Spain in one of the countries with the most advanced and progressive gender regulations in a context in which, for the legislator, advancing in a more feminist society is key to social well-being and economic progress. However, legislative changes are as important as cultural changes and it will be a task for everyone (the State, companies and women and men) to continue making progress in daily behaviors in the elimination of discrimination and gender biases and in real equality of opportunities. 

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The "Game of Thrones" of the labor reform: News on equality between women and men (Royal Decree Law 6/2019). First part.

About the Author

Carlos de la Torre Garcia

Carlos de la Torre Garcia

Partner of the Labor Area at Gomez Acebo y Pombo. Specialist in labor and Social Security advice for national and international clients. Labor Inspector on Leave of Absence. Member of the UNE 19604 Expert Group. Academic Advisor of Fide

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