The social insurance system provides pensions for employees in industry and services, with a special system for the self-employed, farmers, domestic workers, seamen and coal miners. The system is funded through employee and employer contributions, and an annual government subsidy. The fund provides for health and maternity benefits, old age and incapacity insurance, a widow and widower pension, orphan pension, a family subsidy, workers' compensation, job-related disability payments, unemployment insurance and a funeral grant. Retirement is set at age 65, but is allowed at age 64 under certain conditions. Maternity benefits are payable for 16 weeks, and is applicable to adoption as well. Fathers may also take parental leave.
Discrimination against women in the workplace persists although it is prohibited by law. Traditional attitudes towards women leads to disparity in hiring practices and in pay. The female rate of unemployment is about twice that for men and the median salary for women was 30% lower than that of men. There are a growing number of women entering the medical and legal professions. Women take an active role in politics and both the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies are women. The government takes steps to address the problems of domestic abuse and violence against women. The 1999 National Employment Action Plan gives priority to battered women who search for employment. The government is strongly committed to children's welfare and rights.
Roma minorities suffer from housing, education, and employment discrimination. The government provides mechanisms for legal redress for discrimination and harassment for Roma and other minorities. In addition, a growing number of right-wing extremist attacks against minorities have been reported in recent years.
Human rights abuses have been committed by both the government and Basque (ETA) separatist groups. The ETA has carried out killings and kidnapping, while the government has failed to prevent the mistreatment of prisoners.