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Labour, employment and enterprise Updated: 05 Jun 2019

The challenge of work-life balance

Diversity and inclusion have become the keystones around which BBVA structures its response towards the equality and wellbeing of its employees. One of the focal points of Talent and Culture’s policies is tearing down the barriers preventing greater diversity in positions of responsibility. That is why work-life balance emerges as a priority issue to attract and retain talent within the organization.

The roll out of agile methodologies is helping BBVA in this task, by setting up cross-functional self-managed teams empowered both to make decisions and execute on those decisions. Technology and new work methodologies have become essential tools for improving employees’ life-work balance. The initiatives adopted by the organization are aimed at fostering a balance between the different dimensions of employees’ lives - personal, family and professional – through measures such as flexible work schedules and promoting new ways of working.

As a company with more than 125,000 employees distributed across more than 30 countries, the response is not homogeneous. The group has rolled out a set of policies and measures that can be adapted to fit different employee realities to make the most out of them. All this under a model based on objective fulfillment and not necessarily on in-office presence.

Flexible schedules

In Spain, the bank allows its employees to work flexible hours. This formula has been adapted to other countries such as Venezuela, where central services employees can work a flexible schedule, starting at between 8 and 9am; or the United States where through different flexible schedule programs, the bank gives employees the possibility of starting or ending the workday a few hours before or after core work hours.

In Peru, a program launched in 2018 offers core services employees up to four different starting time shifts to choose from; while in Argentina a pilot program – consisting of different shifts, one day of telecommute per week and a reduced workday on Fridays – has been launched to help employees avoid traffic jams.


There are different types of flexible work depending on the number of days employees work remotely. In Spain, the telecommuting formula allows working from home between 50 and 90 percent of regular working hours; while there are two flexible work models, which allow working from home 20 or 40 percent of the working day. Finally, the mobility program has been designed to accommodate frequent travelers, people who spend a lot of time travelling outside the workplace.

The bank’s employees in Venezuela also have a telecommuting program, and under the telecommuting program in Peru central services employees can work from home up to two days a week. In Uruguay, the bank lets recent mothers work remotely, and in Argentina the remote working program extends to all mothers and other employees who have health problems that justify working from home. Employees in the United States can telecommute either from home or from a satellite office, and in both cases, they are provided the necessary technology to carry out their functions.

Childcare facilities and/or financial contributions

BBVA's policies related to employees’ children vary per country. In Spain, employees receive financial assistance for each child from birth until 23 years old, for active employees, those who have retired early, and those retired. Additionally, for children who suffer from disabilities that are 33 percent or more sustained before the child turns 25 and if the disability continues thereafter, additional support is given. Employees in Spain have the right to a leave of absence of up to three years (whereas labor law stipulates two years) in order to take care of a second degree relative (through blood or marriage), who cannot take care of themselves for reasons of age, accident, sickness, or disability. In addition, the employees in BBVA's Madrid headquarters benefit from a childcare facility.

In Colombia, employees have an extra legal benefit of educational support; in Paraguay, they receive economic support until the child is two years old; in Argentina, parent employees receive assistance for childcare for children younger than six; and in Mexico, they receive discounts on payments for day care and other educational or recreational centers.

The bank in Turkey provides its employees access to a telephone line manned by experts in different fields (medical, legal, psychological, and financial) for six free sessions. Employees with children benefit from this service in particular in relation to infant care problems.

Maternity and paternity leave that exceeds the legal minimum

In Spain the bank supplements the benefits related to newborns by allowing the workday to be reduced by an hour (30 minutes more than what is established by law) for mothers of nursing babies up to nine months. Furthermore, during maternity/paternity leave (when the employment contract is formally suspended), the bank provides up to 100 percent of the economic benefits that would be due if the parents were not on leave.

In Colombia, the bank gives ten additional days for maternity leave; whereas in Uruguay, maternity leave is extended an additional 22 days and part time until the child is six months old, while paternity leave is extended an additional three days. For employees in Argentina the legal minimum paternity leave is supplemented with an additional ten days including in cases of adoption.

In the United States, the leave program covers six weeks paid leave for employees who have to look after a sick family member and for mothers and fathers in cases of birth or adoption. Mothers receive an additional six weeks paid pregnancy leave supplemental to the previous provision.

Finally, in Turkey, nursing mothers receive an hour off per day until the child is 1 year old. In addition, mothers who return to work after maternity leave have two hours off each workday until the child is one year old. They can use this benefit each day (beginning the day later or finishing earlier) or combine the hours so that they have an additional day of leave each week or use all the hours as days to extend their maternity leave by approximately a month.