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The work-life balance challenge in Spain and Latin America

patri    (Posted: July 4, 2019)
Reading Time: 3 minutes

In recent months, Spain has taken an important step forward on the issue of work-life balance. The passing of a new law (Real Decreto-ley 6/2019) on the 1st of March has set in motion a series of urgent measures to guarantee equal opportunities between men and women, leading to a positive impact on labour policies concerning work-life balance and work flexibility. The outlook also seems to be changing in Latin America. Colombia remains the second county in the world with the most EFR (Family Responsible Company) certifications.

Work-life balance is becoming one of the key factors when taking up a new job. This is backed up by a report by Randstad Employer Brand Research 2019, which found that this was the second most important factor, after salary, when accepting a new position. Let’s take a look in more detail at the work-life balance situation in the Spanish speaking world.

Advances in work-life balance policies in Spain

Until a few months ago, the only option available to Spanish workers was to exercise their right to a reduction in working hours to care for a child or family member.
Despite the fact that Article 34 of the Workers’ Statute emphasized the possibility of adapting the working day, as long as the collective agreement allowed, the reality was totally different. This collective agreement didn’t always allow for this scenario, thereby leaving workers defenseless and without being able to turn to their right to a working hours reduction.

However, the new law states that, in case the agreement doesn’t specify, the worker may request changes to their working hours.  The company will have 30 days to negotiate with the employee, who will then have 20 subsequent days to appeal.

This is only one example of how the situation is gradually changing in Spain. In fact, a recent report by UNICEF gives a good account of the positive steps the country has taken in recent months. Despite this, Spain only comes in at number 14, out of 31 countries analysed, on the list of countries with the best work-life balance policies. Thus, in its report: “Are rich countries more supportive of families? Analysis of the work-life balance policies in the OECD and the EU”, the organisation grants 15 points to Spain, 8.7 points less than Sweden, which was heading the list of countries with the best work-life balance policies.

In Latin America – work-life balance – an unresolved matter

Latin American countries continue the fight for better work-life balance and work flexibility policies. According to a report by EAE Business School, Latin Americans have the longest working hours in the world. Among these countries, Mexico and Costa Rica stand out, with an average of 2,255 and 2,212 hours per active worker respectively. This data contrasts starkly with an average of 1,695 hours in Spain and so offers a clear reflection on the complexity of proposing and implementing work-life balance policies in these countries.

Despite this, Latin America continues taking new steps to help workers achieve work-life balance. In this regard, the important work carried out by Colombia in achieving second place in the world for the number of family responsible certifications (EFR) can be highlighted. These certifications are granted to recognise those companies that are implementing a management model that supports the balance between personal, family and work life. The Másfamilia foundation, a non-profit organization endorsed by the Spanish government and the UN, is the only entity that can issue this certificate in its mission to bring innovative solutions and provide protection and support for families.

If you are interested in implementing work-life balance and work flexibility policies inform us of your needs and we will be happy to connect you to the right employees who would be interested in your project.