Better work-life balance for parents and carers in the EU

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Credit: Hinterhaus Productions/ Getty

The European Parliament voted today in favour of the trilogue agreement on the directive by the European Commission to improve the work-life balance, linked to the implementation of the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Work-life balance is still a considerable challenge for many workers, and the uneven distribution of parental and care responsibilities has a negative impact on women’s employment, as often they are forced to choose between a career or family. Better access to the labour market for women, with a more balanced distribution of parental responsibilities are important objectives for ALDE.

Amongst the compromises adopted are:

• The right to paid paternity leave, until now non-existent at EU level, of 10 working days.

• Enhancing the minimum standard on parental leave, with an individual right of 4 months of leave for each parent, of which 2 months to be paid and non-transferable between the two parents. For ALDE it was essential to make coincide the period of non-transferability with the period of mandatory payment, as only this improves the chances of parental leave to be taken by fathers.

• Introducing 5 working days per year of carers’ leave, for workers providing personal care for seriously ill or dependent relatives and close persons.

MEP Renate Weber, shadow rapporteur on this file said:

“While I salute the adoption of this important final, I have to admit I was more in favour of the Commission’s initial and ambitious proposal and even more of the Parliament’s position before the trilogues have started. However, after though and lengthy negotiations with the Council we have agreed on a text, which does represent a step forward. It’s not revolutionary, but at least we are now talking about a paid paternity leave entitlement at EU level. Two months non-transferable and paid parental leave and 5 days carers’ leave.”

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It is expected that this initiative will have positive implications for not only the individual, but companies and the entirety of society too. Parents and carers will benefit from a better work-life balance as well as the forecasted increase in employment for women, whose higher earnings and career progression will positively impact their and their families’ economic prosperity, social inclusion and health.

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