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Spain’s Approach to Work

Spain has always had a unique approach to work. Compared with the United States, the Spanish work-life balance is a dream that Americans simply cannot imagine. Spain’s approach towards work, which Americans might consider too progressive, is exemplified by two recent government actions: Big Four Inspections and Paid Menstrual Leave.

The Big Four

Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG are in the spotlight of Spain’s Labour Inspectorate for excessive working hours. The second vice-president and Minister of Employment, Yolanda Díaz, warned the four large consultancy firms, known as the “Big Four”, that no company, “no matter how big it is”, is going to “remain outside the law”.

The Labour Inspectorate carried out on 15 November a coordinated action to inspect the four big consulting firms to check compliance with working hours and overtime. “I think we are very clear from the Second Vice-Presidency and the Ministry of Labour and Social Economy, there will be no company, from the smallest to the largest, no matter how big it is, or even a multinational consulting firm, that is outside the law,” Diaz stressed to the media.

The minister stressed that there is a “clear mandate” to control working hours and the “excesses and abuses” that could be committed. “We are all equal, and everyone has to comply with the principle of legality in Spain”, Díaz concluded.

Menstrual Leave

Back in December, Spanish lawmakers adopted a new bill creating a menstrual leave for women suffering from painful periods. Irene Montero, Spain’s Minister of Equality, stated, “We recognise menstrual health as part of the right to health, and we fight stigma and silence”. The length of sick leave that doctors will be able to grant to women suffering from painful periods has not been specified in the bill.

When this bill is finally adopted, Spain will become the first country in Europe and one of the few in the world to integrate this measure into its legislation, following the example of Japan, Indonesia or Zambia. However, there are reservations in certain quarters, particularly within the UGT trade union, one of the country’s two major unions, over concerns about the possibility that employers who want to avoid these absences will put a brake on the hiring of women.