"How do you leave your son, so small, alone with his father?" This simple question, which was asked to Elena Arcos when she returned to her position six weeks after her first baby was born, condenses the prejudices that couples still face when they decide to leave the traditional model and that it is the man who takes advantage of it. the possibilities of conciliation that the law grants to workers with children. "With whom will he be better than with his father?" Answered Arcos, currently director of Human Resources for a company with 80 employees.
That father whose capacity to take care of his baby generated doubts from the outside is Ángel Castro, a 43-year-old computer scientist. Not only did he use his wife's 10 weeks of maternity leave, plus two weeks of paternity leave, when David was born nine years ago. She also did it at the birth of the little girl, Elena, five years ago, although in this case the mother took nine weeks of leave and gave the rest to the father. "I wanted to spend more time with them as babies, a time that is usually lost and is one of the most beautiful," says Castro. "I've always liked my work a lot and when I thought about it, it seemed like a fabulous idea," recalls Arcos.
For six years, this father also enjoys a reduction of daily hours and a half. You need to leave your job at the French multinational Orange at four in the afternoon and arrive at your home, on the other side of Madrid, in time to pick up the children from the school route three quarters of an hour later. From there, face the second working day of the day: snack, extracurricular activities and a game time. The mother comes home about half past six and reviews the homework with David. Afterwards, they share bathrooms and dinner before putting the children to bed.
Although in recent years it is increasingly seen that men take care of their children, the case of Castro is still exceptional. It is true that parents who take a reduction in working hours for the care of children or dependent adults do not stop increasing: the figure has gone from 6,100 at the end of 2008 to more than double, 16,400, in 2018, according to the Active Population Survey. However, they do not even reach 5% of the total. Women take the remaining 95%. Something similar happens with the exceedances: in 2018, 57,057 were recorded for family care, of which 6,021, slightly more than 10%, corresponded to men, according to Social Security data.
Raúl Pérez, 46, is the only man who has been granted a reduction in working hours at the General Council of Economists in Madrid. When their children, Víctor, 13, and Héctor, 11, were small, he returned home around eight in the afternoon, although in recent years, the company advanced his departure by one hour. "When you arrive, although you try to help, you are disconnected from being out all day," he admits. Pérez explains that the relationship with his partner was suffering from daily stress. "You see that she does not stop, that she does not have life," she sums up.
For a year, this computer only works one afternoon a week. "Children are at an age when they need models to educate themselves, not just carers or to see their mother as a taxi driver from one activity to another," she says. "We've all noticed: we laugh more, we sleep better ... Even if we earn less, we live better," he says. His wife, Cristina Peraleda, an official, confirms: "We broke our homework, and we have more time to be together, I also had to get used to having time for myself". Perez calls that the measure, contemplated until the child reaches 12 years, extends to 18 years, because during these years "needs the guidance of their parents."
GENDER GAP IN CONCILIATION MEASURES
When you joined your job after the withdrawal period, did you take any of the following measures? (in% of mothers and fathers who had a job)
Although experts agree on the perception that men want to be more involved, "this desire does not translate into using conciliation measures to the same extent as mothers," says José Andrés Fernández Cornejo, professor of Economics Applied at the Complutense University of Madrid. While social pressure pushes women to use these rights under pain of being judged as "bad mothers," in men it is even more difficult to see them as "less ambitious or engaged in their work or who do not understand them", Explain.
The implementation of a non-transferable paternity leave, that is, that is lost if the father does not enjoy it, is being decisive in overcoming this pressure and "building the idea that care also belongs to men", affirms the sociologist Constanza Tobío. Since the 13th day of 2007, this benefit has been increased up to the current five weeks, which will rise to eight on April 1 and will be matched at 16 weeks of the maternity leave in 2021, provided that the Congress validates the decree law approved by the Government last day 1.
"Visibility is key for male empowerment in care and its normalization," says Usúe Madinaveitia, founder of the projects #mamiconcilia Y #papiconcilia, that collect testimonies of professionals who have clashed with the opposition of their companies when trying to reconcile family and work, in some cases reaching dismissal. This journalist highlights the awareness work of these movements or the PPiiNA platform, created to promote equal and non-transferable paternity leave, in order to ensure that parents actually enjoy them.
Photos: Andrea Comas / Text: Gabriela López
Fernando Nuño Santana and Berta Ausin share the housework "in an equal way, without differentiation of roles ", explains this 50-year-old self-employed. "I did not want to be an absent father, and my work at that time required me to travel constantly, so I decided to resign and reformulated my professional life to make it compatible with the value it gave to fatherhood". Click here to see what a day in the life of this family is like.
The data is clear: in 2018, the vast majority of parents, 255,531, they enjoyed their permission, and even surpassed in number the maternity benefits granted, 252,706, a disparity that responds to the greater male participation in the labor market. Only 4,731 mothers shared part of their permission with the father (1.87%). The great reception of paternity leave shows that men want to take care of. "They realize that they are not like their parents, the provider father, the one who imposed authority and punished, was a very unfriendly character, and they also discover that care gives many satisfactions," Tobío explains.
Sergio Simarro, 41, intends to experience it during the next year. Self-employed Internet consultant, is about to have his first child. His intention is to take paternity leave, which will bring him about 900 euros per month when paying the minimum fee, and then combine work from home and taking care of the baby when the mother, Marian, joins her position in a company in the tourism sector. "The decision to stay in care has not been economic, but because I have more flexibility," he says. In fact, "it's cheaper for us to leave it in a daycare center, but we want it to be with us for more than four months, it's too small to be left, and one of us can be with it."
Simarro, who lives in Alicante, calculates that his income during these months will be reduced by at least 50%, due to the experience of colleagues who once made the same decision. "It will depend on how I manage the projects that come in. It will be a matter of getting organized, of playing with the schedule to find a balance to take care of the baby and take the work forward," she says.
Luis Martínez Domeño, a 35-year-old first-time father, also has flexibility, in this case of entry and exit schedules, like the rest of Repsol's employees. Head of Analysis and Control of Trading, with a team of seven people, Martínez Domeño highlights the "incentive" that this type of measures means for workers. "My boss has two girls and a reduction in working hours, there are two people on my team who telecommute, no one looks at you badly, and it results in a work environment and commitment, not a cost for the company, but a benefit". ensures
Martínez Domeño teleworks on Thursdays, day that saves an hour of trips to the office, in the south of Madrid. This gives him time to leave little Luis, 10 months old, in the nursery, and pick him up later and take him to swim. "The joy and smiles my son gives me are not given to me by anyone," he admits. From what he sees in his close friends, "the mentality has changed and parents want to get involved in parenting."
SACRIFICE OF OPPORTUNITIES
Who do you think has sacrificed more career opportunities for having children? (in %)
Fernández Cornejo, co-author of the study Mother-father gap in the use of conciliation measures and their effect on mothers' professional careers, He explains that precisely that figure of the man involved has replaced that of the breadwinner in the notion of what society understands as a "good father". And it is a figure that your companions value. This study, which includes a survey of 1,785 couples with small children in the Community of Madrid, shows that mothers whose partners are more involved in child-rearing perceive a lower penalty in their professional career due to having children.
In the case of Ángel Castro, it was key. "The fact that Angel took the reduction of working hours has allowed me to grow professionally, having children greatly conditions the schedules, and thus it is difficult to assume certain positions", recognizes Elena Arcos. Meanwhile, Castro feels rewarded with the extra time he spends with children. "Being part of their day to day is what fills me."