Good Practice

Fostering Co-Responsible Reconciliation through Public Procurement

Including procurement clauses in municipal contracts to promote awarded suppliers’ adoption of work-life balance measures.

Barcelona City Council
Local policy


  • Systematically apply this clause in public contracts to foster the adoption of reconciliation measures within companies and organisations participating in public procurement processes.
  • Foster innovation and reinforce companies’ role as drivers of change by considering measures that go beyond what is legally required


Legal improvements have sought to increase companies’ obligations regarding work-life balance, but many companies are not yet affected by them, or comply strictly with the law. The lack of measures in that direction has significant consequences for the quality of life of workers, particularly women and the most precarious employees.

Barcelona City Council can influence companies’ behaviour through public procurement and effect change at the metropolitan level. It is the primary contractor in the city, so including social and environmental clauses in public procurement ensures that the Council is a good mechanism to incentivise voluntary adoption of such measures.


In 2017, Barcelona City Council approved a pioneering decree on sustainable public procurement which set out criteria to make municipal procurement a tool for transformation. Among other things, it recommends including a contract performance condition requiring suppliers to take specific steps to facilitate work-life balance among their employees.

These criteria are described in a guide, currently under review, and were subsequently developed through protocols to facilitate their implementation. As for the clause on co-responsible reconciliation, the protocol specifies the types of measures that the supplier can apply, the deadlines and requirements to verify its fulfilment, and facilitates some support resources. Particularly noteworthy among these is an advisory service for companies on matters of equality and time organisation that offers individualised assessments, tailored to the needs of each company.


  • Social clauses are not applicable to the whole company but are limited to the contract execution. Hence, it will be key to evaluate proportionality regarding the contract characteristics, particularly as duration and number of contracted employees are concerned.
  • To obtain the desired results, defining the way in which clause compliance is verified (documents to present, deadlines, formats, etc.), as well as sanctions if the clause is not fulfilled, will be key.
  • Generating support resources for both companies and the public employees designing the contracts will be important.


  • Number of contracts that have added the co-responsible reconciliation clause since it was approved:
  • 2017: 1
  • 2018: 11
  • 2019: 42
  • 2020: 62
  • 2021: 112

Total: 228



Director of Gender and Time Policy Services

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