Royal Decree-Law 5/2023 of June 28 has introduced significant changes in the area of labor leave, expanding the rights of reconciliation and ensuring equality of treatment and opportunities between men and women at work. These updates have been the necessary response to the European Directive 2019/1158, which aims to balance the family and professional life of parents and caregivers.
Some existing permits have been modified. For example, marriage leave is extended to people registered as civil partnerships, and leave for accidents, serious illnesses, or surgical interventions, which has been increased from 2 to 5 days, now includes spouses, civil partners, and relatives up to the second degree.
New rights have also been created, such as absence for urgent family reasons related to cohabiting persons, and parental leave. The latter is an individual right to care for children and minors in foster care, for up to 8 weeks until the child reaches 8 years old.
Also, some aspects of the request for work schedule adaptation have been improved, now including people with caregiving needs for children over 12 years old and other dependents.
Moreover, the Decree also includes new protections against dismissal, such as its nullity in certain cases. Needless to say, even with these improvements, the application of these measures can be a source of conflicts and require efficient management by companies.
There is no doubt that we are facing a regulation that has introduced notable changes, some of which are pending regulatory development or collective bargaining. Therefore, it is recommended to review existing regulated leave and rights to analyze their impact and, if applicable, compatibility with the new regulation.
It is foreseeable that its practical application will lead to an increase in litigation, not only due to the interpretation of some new concepts but also due to the expected increase in conflicts in the collision of rights at play that will have to be resolved on a case-by-case basis, without forgetting the primacy of reconciliation rights.
This situation will require considerable planning effort and good management by companies, which will have to attend to each request respecting the existing procedures and obligations and those that arise from the development of the current ones, with the aim of better assuming the risk and adequately justifying the limitations or postponements, if necessary, and designing alternative plans in the face of the various interests that will arise.