Reconciling work and family life in the financial services sector

Two of the largest Spanish banks, BBVA and Banco Popular, are the first companies in Spain’s financial services sector to introduce plans aimed at a better work-life balance. These plans have been negotiated with the employee representatives, and include a wide array of measures.

Reconciling work and family life is becoming an increasingly topical issue in the financial services sector’s social agenda, particularly in light of its strategy on corporate social responsibility. In this context, two of the largest private Spanish banks, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) and Banco Popular, have prepared - in close cooperation with the trade unions - a package of measures on the issue of work-life balance.

BBVA measures

BBVA has signed a biannual agreement with two of Spain’s main trade union confederations, the General Union of Workers (Unión General de Trabajadores, UGT) and the Trade Union Confederation of Workers’ Commissions (Comisiones Obreras, CC.OO), covering four basic pillars: reconciling work and family life; the protection of pregnancy and maternity; equal opportunities for both sexes; and a number of measures on sexual harassment and violence. The measures included within each pillar can be summarised as follows.

In order to foster the reconciliation of family and work life, employees with children aged under seven years, or with elderly or sick relatives, are allowed to reduce their daily working time by a quarter. In addition, leave of absence is extended to three years, and this period, as well as any other time devoted to child-caring duties, will be taken into account in calculating seniority rights. Moreover, during the first year, the employee will have the right to keep his/her exact job, after which guarantees for similar work remain in place.

With regard to the protection of pregnancy and maternity, the agreement provides that the legal ‘breast-feeding hour’ may be substituted either by a reduction in one hour of the daily working time (either at the beginning or at the end of the day), or by 15 days to be added to the legally-binding maternity leave period. In the case of a multiple birth, the time to be reduced will be one hour per child per day, or 30 days if the accumulated leave option is chosen. This leave can be taken either by the father or by the mother. The BBVA agreement also includes the possibility of taking maternity leave on a part-time basis (only available to mothers), while fathers can benefit from an increase of five consecutive working days off after the baby’s birth, in addition to the existing legal paternity leave.

Concerning the issue of equal opportunities for both sexes, the agreement enables employees to take periods of leave without pay for family-related situations, and also to reduce their working time for professional training. In addition, employees on leave without pay may participate in calls for transfers and promotions, as if they were active in the workplace. Furthermore, a special Equality Committee has been appointed to ensure that the principle of equality of opportunities is fulfilled.

In an effort to combat sexual harassment and violence, the agreement establishes the following measures for women who are affected by these situations: the right to part-time work or flexitime; the option of moving to another location, with a right to keep their former job for six months; and the possibility of stopping their working contract for a period of six to 18 months.

Banco Popular measures

Meanwhile, Banco Popular has reached agreement with its trade unions on a package comprising 14 measures, available to any of the bank’s 13,500 employees. These measures can be briefly summarised as follows. First, leave of absence for family care reasons is extended up to three years, and up to one year for community work or for training reasons. Second, the maternity leave period is extended by two additional paid weeks, and, once the baby is born, the mother may substitute the legal ‘breast-feeding hour’ for paid leave of 12 working days. In addition, female employees whose job involves a daily split shift, and who have children aged under three years, are allowed the option of continuous working time. Moreover, the legal maternity leave period is extended to one year for mothers who have triplets, quadruplets or children with disabilities.

Banco Popular has also established a number of financial support measures for employees with disabled children, as well as interest-free loans of up to nine months for adoptions, and a crèche payment of €60 per month for employees with children under three years old. Finally, Banco Popular has also guaranteed that it will provide a temporary worker to take over the work of women on maternity leave in offices with fewer than four employees, as well as the facility to install video-conference systems in order to reduce work travel as much as possible.

Further information

The recently approved ‘Concilia Plan’ agreement in the public sector (ES0602104f) establishes a series of measures for civil servants of the General State Administration with regard to flexible working time, work-life balance, care of dependants, and sexual harassment.

In February 2006, the Spanish government consulted the social partners on its new draft gender equality law (ES0602106f). In a further related measure towards reconciling work and family life, a draft bill aimed at establishing a national dependent care system was approved in December 2005 (ES0601205f).

For further information at European level on combining family and full-time work, see the comparative topic report on this subject, TN0510TR02. The national report for Spain (105Kb pdf) is also available.




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