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

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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.

The Employment and Social Affairs Committee voted today with a majority in favour of the proposal for a directive by the European Commission to improve work-life balance, linked to the implementation of the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Amongst the compromises are:

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

• Enhancing the minimum standard on parental leave, providing an individual right of 4 months for each parent, non-transferable between parents (currently, only one month is non-transferable), to be taken before the child reaches the age of 10.

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

MEP Renate Weber, shadow rapporteur on this file said:

“The proposal for this Directive raised high expectations with respect to harmonising family and work life, thus allowing women to better participate on the employment market and boost the take-up of men of family responsibilities. The report adopted still hopes to deliver a lot on these goals against the harsh reality of the Council´s conservative and not flexible approach. I hope that during the trilogue the Council will understand that the winners (hopefully not the losers) are the European citizens.”

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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