Tuesday, May 24

Single-parent families win their first battles to obtain leave equal to those of two parents after birth

Beatriz Fernández Blanco and Adriana Martínez Losada are two Galician women who decided to become single mothers. The two were aware during pregnancy that the leave that would correspond to them when their baby was born would be 16 weeks and that there would not be a second parent who could enjoy their own leave to delay the time when their daughters had to enter the nursery. “It is total discrimination against single-parent families,” summarizes Martínez Losada. Justice has recognized both that they have the right to add the period that would correspond to the second parent and also that they can do so immediately, without having to wait for the decision to be final. They are the first battles won in a fight that aspires to a change in the law.

Two judgments in Galicia recognize single-parent mothers the right to add the second parent’s permission

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Before these two pioneering judgments in Galicia, there was another in Euskadi, which was the one that ended up encouraging these two mothers to claim through the courts. The Superior Court of Justice of the Basque Country released a decision in November 2020 in which it agreed with a woman who had been denied the additional eight weeks by the National Social Security Institute (INSS). then to the second parent – his daughter was born in 2019 and the times were later extended. The main positive aspects of the judicial decisions on the two Galician cases are the speed with which the judges have pronounced and the fact that they are executive sentences. That is, they recognize that the right can be enjoyed even if the process is not concluded because appeals have been presented. Nicolás Alonso, a lawyer for the Ronda Collective who has worked with numerous cases of single-parent families in Spain, compares the times with those of some lawsuits that he has been in Andalusia and whose trials are scheduled for 2024.

These delays, he explains, make the process meaningless because it is in the first months of a baby’s life that care takes more time. The sentences of Beatriz and Adriana “open the way” to fight against what they describe as “discrimination” against minors born in single-parent families. When there are two parents, there are also two permits, which imply more time of care. “The one who suffers it at the end is the minor, who has the same need for care,” says Alonso.

Beatriz Fernández Blanco relates that when she became pregnant, it was not among her plans to protest, but she realized that she was going to have to take her daughter to a nursery when she was only four or five months old and “that was not the case with the rest children’s”. The whole process of having a baby seems “designed only for biparentality”: since it is taken for granted that someone other than the biological mother can do the first steps if she needs rest until the permission for care is reduced to only 16 weeks. When there are two parents, he emphasizes, it can last up to eight or nine months. “It still seems little to me, but I thought it was an injustice for my daughter to have four,” she explains. When he read about the Euskadi sentence, he contacted the lawyer Enrique Fonteboa. His case was presented to the courts at the beginning of February of this year and on April 5 the Social Court number 1 of Vigo had agreed with him. She was recognized for another 12 weeks, which are those of the second parent’s permission that applied in 2020, when her baby was born.

In 2021 another modification of the rule came into force that raises the period to 16 weeks, so that those of both parents are equated. To promote co-responsibility, it is non-transferable. “I understand that part,” Beatriz explains, but it is what makes it difficult for both permits to be claimed in cases like yours. The change that would correct this situation is, in his opinion, “very simple” and would be to accumulate the permits in case there is only one parent. She believes that this is how justice would be done: “Due to birth rates, family diversity and feminism, since 83% –of single-parent families– are women.” He criticizes the attitude of the INSS, which has resorted to in all the steps, both on the fact that they give him the reason and on the fact that the sentence is carried out immediately. Despite the “pirouettes” of the administration, she is right now enjoying the right granted by the sentence.

In the same situation is Adriana Martínez, who exhausts the permit on June 30 but who connects with the summer holidays because she is a teacher. She assures that she always had the intention of claiming to defend her daughter’s rights and the Social Court number three of Ourense agreed with her at the end of March. It was after giving birth, in September 2020, when she came into contact with the Association Single Mothers by Choice (MSPE) in Galicia, which advised these two women.

“This litigation is because we have no other solution. They have forgotten us and the whole movement is in search of a legislative change,” explains Adriana. That, the change in the rule, believes that it will be “the next step” if the Supreme Court agrees with the mother in the case of Euskadi – the administration appealed the ruling of the Superior Court of Justice of the Basque Country.

Nicolás Alonso also demands the legislative change. When he started working with this type of case, it was this route, and not the judicial one, that made him more optimistic. However, progress is coming in the courts. The judgments of Euskadi and Galicia, he says, open a “very wide” door and there are more and more judgments in the first instance favorable to single-parent families in this regard. In their opinion, they give more arguments to ask for the modification of the law.