In addition to the fundamental right of equality and non-discrimination set out in the Spanish Constitution, there are specific measures to promote diversity, both in legislation and in relation to collective bargaining.
The gender salary gap between women and men is still 16.6% on average, looking at gross income by hours of work, according to data from 2013.
The Workers Statute limits decisions of the employer which may directly or indirectly detrimentally affect women and obliges the Government to grant “subsidies, tax reliefs, and to promote other measures to employ specific groups of employees who may find special difficulties with access to employment”.
As a result, both female and male employees are now able to take advantage of family friendly measures such as reductions of up to 50% of the working time to take care of children under 12 years old (previously the limit was set at six and then eight years); leave and special authorisation to take care of children, with entitlement to full rights. These employees are specially protected by law against any detrimental employer action, including dismissal, which will be null and void unless proved to be justified (no declaration of unfairness is permitted).
The Statute also obliges those responsible for negotiating collective measures or collective bargaining agreements to establish measures on equal opportunities for accessing employment and professional development, including giving preference in redundancies or other collective decisions to those specially-protected employees (in terms of protecting them from redundancy or mitigating the impact of an implemented measure).
In addition, the Organic Law on Equality includes an obligation to have an “Equality Plan” in companies over 250 employees, consisting of negotiated measures to promote and support access to employment and development under equal conditions regardless of employees' gender. Failure to comply, which can be evidenced through a company deviating from the general statistics on equality, could lead to a fine of up to EUR 187,515.
In addition, the Government annually allocates a line item in the General National Budget to pay the expenses of Equality Plans in companies with fewer than 250 employees, which can amount up to EUR 10,000 per company, including the expenses incurred on legal advice. These Equality Plans also include protocols to raise awareness of and prevent sexual harassment at work (which is also included in the Criminal Code as a specific type of offence).
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the grants of up to 100% of the contributions for maternity leavers and their substitutes are paid by the Social Security system, which also encourages female hiring through greater reductions and bonuses than those applied to male employees under similar circumstances.