Spain grants social benefits to cleaners and carers

MADRID– The Spanish government on Tuesday passed a law giving hundreds of thousands of housekeepers and care workers the first right to unemployment benefits and other job protections.

Labor Minister Yolanda Díaz said the law would benefit more than 370,000 people, 95% of them women. She said the bill aims to end discrimination against workers whose jobs have been undervalued for too long.

“If there’s one job in our lives that’s important, it’s caring and cleaning, and for that reason I think today the country is better off,” Díaz said.

The law will come into force in October.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced on Monday that the bill would pass at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, saying it was aimed at “putting an end to an unacceptable injustice”.

Díaz said the law follows long-standing recommendations from the European Union and the International Labor Organization that people employed in private homes should have the same rights as other workers.

Díaz said a third of cleaners and caregivers were over 50. More than 40% are foreigners, mainly Colombians, Romanians and Hondurans.

Unions and collectives of domestic workers have long campaigned for the bill. They argued that most cleaners and caregivers had no social or job protection and often worked up to 60 hours a week. They could also be terminated without notice or justification.

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