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MEPs back work-life balance reforms

MEPs back work-life balance reforms

Photo © European Union 2011 - EP

(BRUSSELS) - The EU Parliament's Employment Committee gave its backing Wednesday to approved paternity leave, non-transferable parental leave and measures to boost women's chances in the labour market.

The Work Life Balance Directive could see a significant increase in the rights of parents and carers across the EU. It would also encourage fairer sharing of caring responsibilities between men and women.

The draft rules set minimum requirements for EU Member States, in a bid to boost women's representation in the workplace and strengthen the role of a father or an equivalent second parent in the family. This would benefit children and a family life, whilst reflecting societal changes more accurately and promoting gender equality.

MEPs on the committee backed the Commission proposal which introduces the right to paid paternity leave of at least 10 working days for fathers around the time of birth or stillbirth. However, they extended the scope to cover equivalent second parents, as defined in national law and in the event of adoption of a child.

They also added provisions for 4 months of non-transferable parental leave to be taken before a child is 10 years old. This leave should be an individual right, creating the right conditions for a more balanced distribution of responsibilities.

Finally, paid carer's leave for workers providing personal care to a person in a serious medical condition or age-related impairment was adopted.

Leave take-up rates among parents depend on many factors. In order to encourage a higher-paid family member (who is usually a man) to take it, the MEPs propose that the level of the payment or allowance should be at least equivalent to 78% of the worker´s gross wage in the case of parental leave and carer's leave and to 80% in the case of paternity leave.

In order for the rules to be implemented smoothly, ensuring that the workers in micro and small companies could also fully benefit from these rights, the proposals include introduction of a reasonable notice period, specifying the intended beginning and end of the parental leave period, taking into account the constraints to working arrangements and planning that small firms face.

MEPs also want workers, whose child is up to the age of 10, to be able to adjust their working patterns, including where feasible, through remote working or flexible schedules. They stress that the employer should justify any postponement of parental leave in writing and in the case of justified postponement, where possible, offer flexible forms of parental leave.

Following the vote, three-way negotiations with the Commission and the Council, which has already reached its common position, are due to start in September.

Further information, European Parliament

Procedure file

EPRS Briefing: A new directive on work-life balance

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