End of era for macho iberico as sex-equality law starts

23rd June 2006, Comments 0 comments

23 June 2006 , MADRID — Spain introduced a controversial new sex-equality law to reduce discrimination in the workplace on Friday.

23 June 2006

MADRID — Spain introduced a controversial new sex-equality law to reduce discrimination in the workplace on Friday.

The cabinet gave the final approval to a law which includes a workplace provision of up to two years of maternity leave, and eight days off for new fathers.

Also, any sort of discrimination against an employee for her pregnancy will be outlawed.

The bill also reverses the burden of proof in discrimination cases, so that it is up to the accused to show an acceptable basis for his discriminatory action, according to Work, Social Matters and Immigration Minister Jesus Caldera.

The law will ban not only direct and indirect discrimination but also sexual harassment and denigrating sex-based comments, which, according to Caldera, will be "severely" penalized.

To boost women's role in the political decision-making process, the law sayd political parties are obliged to present lists of candidates at elections that include at least 40 percent women.

Also guaranteed will be a balanced representation among high-ranking officials appointed to all government bureaucracies.

The administration wants to achieve the same parity within four years on private-sector boards of directors.

In order to reach this target, the law will offer government contracts to companies which demonstrate the highest index of gender equality.

Caldera said if these measures do not work after four years, "more drastic" action could be taken.

The legislation has set companies targets giving preference to women in hiring and promotions if females are not already equally represented.

Measures in favour of family-job accomodation, such as the right to flexible hours, are also included.

The law seeks to end the traditional discrimination against women, who in Spain earn 40 percent less than men, double the salary differential of the European Union as a whole.

At the same time, women's employment rates are some 10 percent below the European average, according to statistics provided by EU.

In the political arena, women hold 36 percent of the 350 seats in the Congressional lower house, while in the Senate only 61 percent of its 258 members are women, and only one of them heads a regional government - Esperanza Aguirre in Madrid.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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