Working dads entitled to ‘breast-feeding’ leave

2010-09-30 15:28

Luxembourg – Working parents, take note: Europe’s top court says dads are entitled to “breast-feeding” leave, even when moms are self-employed.

The European Union Court of Justice ruled today that a Spanish law caused an “unjustified discrimination on grounds of sex” because fathers are not afforded the same right as women unless the baby’s mother is an employee.

The Spanish workers’ statute lets working parents take breast-feeding leave during the first nine months following the birth of a child, allowing an absence from work for an hour or a half-hour reduction in the working day.

But a father can only benefit from this right if the mother is a salaried employee.

Not giving dads the same right as moms in this case “is liable to perpetuate a traditional distribution of the roles of men and women by keeping men in a role subsidiary to that of women in relation to the exercise of their parental duties,” the court ruled.

The Spanish man who challenged the law, Pedro Manuel Roca Alvarez, said his request to take breast-feeding leave from his job in Galicia was rejected because the mother of his child was self-employed.

The top court said such a refusal could have the effect of forcing self-employed mothers to limit their work because the dad cannot share the burden.

The Spanish law was instituted in 1900 to facilitate breast-feeding by the mother, but it has evolved over the years and the right has been granted for bottle feeding too, the EU court said.

breast-feeding leave should now be considered as “time purely devoted to the child” in order to reconcile family life and work following maternity leave, it said.

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