Spain / Superior Court of Justice (Social Chamber) / STSJ M 9726/2023

Deciding body type
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding body
Superior Court of Justice (Social Chamber)
Decision date
ECLI (European case law identifier)
  • Spain / Superior Court of Justice (Social Chamber) / STSJ M 9726/2023

    Key facts of the case:

    30 June 2021 - The plaintiff, Ms Martina Sara, a member of the General Social Security Scheme, gave birth to a daughter forming a single-parent family with her as there was no other parent. 12 July 2021 – Ms Martina applied to the Provincial Directorate of the National Social Security Institute (in Madrid) for maternity benefits for the birth of her daughter, which were granted for a period of 16 weeks and a daily regulatory base of 135.67 euros per day. 22 July 2021 - Ms Martina requested the extension of her leave and benefits to those corresponding to paternity leave for the two-parent families whose entitlement she is claiming, with the same regulatory basis described above. Faced with the rejection of this benefit, the plaintiff filed the corresponding claim prior to judicial proceedings in accordance with the provisions of Article 71 of the revised text of the Law Regulating Social Jurisdiction approved by Law 36/2011. Once the 45-day period had elapsed without an express decision and, therefore, the administrative remedy had been exhausted, the plaintiff filed a claim for a judgment recognising her right to the extension of maternity leave to 32 weeks corresponding to the paternity leave enjoyed by two-parent families for the benefit of the child, with the right to receive the benefits corresponding to the same. 22 October 2022 - The 45th Social Court of Madrid ruled dismissing Ms. Martina's claim. Against this ruling, the plaintiff filed an appeal before the Social Chamber of the Madrid Superior Court of Justice. 15 September 2023 – The Social Chamber of the Madrid Superior Court of Justice ruled confirming and upholding the first instance ruling and, therefore, dismissing Ms Martina’s appeal. The reasoning of the court of first instance for dismissing the claim, which was subsequently confirmed on appeal, can be summarised in the following terms: (i) The right claimed is an individual right of the worker, and its exercise cannot be transferred to the other parent. (ii) upholding the appellant's claim would mean creating a new contributory benefit in favour of single-parent parents, which, moreover, would be strictly limited to the doubling of the duration of the benefit without modifying the specific conditions in terms of the prior contribution period or the legal regime for its granting or subsistence, altering the configuration designed by the legislator. (iii) Such an intervention is far removed from what the constitutional organisation of the State entrusts to judges and courts, whose function is the application and interpretation of the law, not the creation of law.

    Key legal question raised by the Court:

    The Court has been asked to decide in the present appeal whether, in a single-parent family, the sole parent who received the childbirth and childcare allowance is also entitled to the allowance which would have been payable to the other parent had there been one.

    Outcome of the case:

    In factual terms, the court's ruling against the plaintiff's claim results in the denial of the alleged right claimed. In its legal ground 2, the court alleges a lack of legislation regulating the right claimed, thus revealing a legal vacuum attributable to the legislator.

  • Paragraphs referring to EU Charter

    (...) The public authorities cannot ignore this demand, which, on the other hand, is a requirement derived from Articles 9.2 and 14 of the Constitution, Articles 2 and 3.2 of the Treaty on European Union, and Articles 21 and 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. In this way, an important step is taken towards achieving real and effective equality between men and women, promoting the reconciliation of personal and family life, and the principle of co-responsibility between both parents, both of which are essential elements for the fulfilment of the principle of equal treatment and opportunities between men and women in all areas.

    Thus, as far as Union law is concerned, the existing legislation in this area more than meets the requirements of Directive 2019/1958, the preamble of which "encourages Member States to assess whether the conditions and detailed arrangements for exercising the right to parental leave, carers' leave and flexible working arrangements should be adapted to specific needs, e.g. single parents, adoptive parents, parents with disabilities, parents who have children with disabilities or serious or chronic illnesses, or parents in particular circumstances, such as those related to multiple or premature births". A provision in the preamble that is specifically and concretely addressed to the States, without establishing a common or minimum regulation that is binding on the member states or that determines what they can decide in this respect, and much less conditions the interpretation that the judicial bodies have to make of the state regulation approved with the provisions of the Directive. The same conclusion must be reached with regard to the provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFREU), which contains provisions (Article 21 - prohibition of discrimination; Article 24 - special attention to the interests of minors; Article 33 - the right of everyone to paid maternity leave and parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child), with which Spanish legislation is perfectly in line.

  • Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language)

    (…) Los poderes públicos no pueden desatender esta demanda que, por otro lado, es una exigencia derivada de los artículos 9.2 y 14 de la Constitución; de los artículos 2 y 3.2 del Tratado de la Unión Europea; y de los artículos 21 y 23 de la Carta de los Derechos Fundamentales de la Unión Europea. De esta forma se da un paso importante en la consecución de la igualdad real y efectiva entre hombres y mujeres, en la promoción de la conciliación de la vida personal y familiar, y en el principio de corresponsabilidad entre ambos progenitores, elementos ambos esenciales para el cumplimiento del principio de igualdad de trato y de oportunidades entre hombres y mujeres en todos los ámbitos.

    Así, por lo que respecta al derecho de la Unión, la normativa vigente en la materia cumple sobradamente con las exigencias de la Directiva 2019/1958 , en cuyo preámbulo "se anima a los Estados miembros a que valoren si las condiciones y las modalidades detalladas de ejercicio del derecho al permiso parental, el permiso para cuidadores y las fórmulas de trabajo flexible deben adaptarse a necesidades específicas, por ejemplo, familias monoparentales, padres adoptivos, progenitores con discapacidad, progenitores que tienen hijos con discapacidad o enfermedades graves o crónicas o progenitores en circunstancias particulares, tales como las relacionadas con nacimientos múltiples o prematuros". Previsión del preámbulo que va dirigida específica y concretamente a los Estados, sin que, respecto a lo en ella contenido, se establezca una regulación común o mínima que obligue a los estados miembros ni que determine lo que al respecto puedan decidir y mucho menos condicione la interpretación que de la regulación estatal homologada con las previsiones de la Directiva tengan que realizar los órganos de justicia. A la misma conclusión hay que llegar respecto a las previsiones de la Carta de Derechos Fundamentales de la Unión Europea (CDFUE) que contiene previsiones (artículo 21 -prohibición de discriminación-; artículo 24 - especial atención al interés del menor; artículo 33 -derecho de toda persona a un permiso pagado por maternidad y un permiso parental por nacimiento o adopción de un niño-), a las que la legislación española se adecúa perfectamente.