Spain: New Rules

After about a week in Portugal, I’ll be spending several in Spain. In
recent weeks I’ve read about two new laws that went into effect in the country at the beginning of 2006. I’ll be
interested to talk to locals about how they feel about these changes and what differences they have observed, if any,
since the rules went into effect. The first is the government’s official end of the siesta, a
centuries-old tradition that had Spanish workers at the office from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., then on break till about 4:30
p.m., then back to the office for about three more hours each afternoon. Under the new law, Spanish government
ministries will close no later than 6 p.m. as part of a package of measures designed to help Spaniards balance jobs and
families. Taking siesta time in the middle of the day is not practical for most workers anymore, since they usually have
to travel far to the office. The second law that went into effect was a series of anti-smoking
, which states that smoking is now forbidden in all places of work, both public and private and all public
buildings, including schools, shops, hospitals and on public transport. Employees who want to smoke must do so outside,
and must make up the time lost at work too. According to the News from Spain blog I linked to above, it appears that the
law is not yet being enforced or taken seriously in parts of the country. And this 2005/2006
perspective piece
on the country says the evolution to practice of the law will be slow. It’s only been a
week…we’ll see how it is when I’m there next month.