EU work-life balance: provisional agreement reached

EU work-life balance
© iStock/kate_sept2004

The European Parliament and Council reached a provisional agreement yesterday on the European Commission’s proposals to improve work-life balance in the EU.

The agreement, which has yet to be approved by Member States, sets minimum requirements for paternity leave and non-transferable parental leave; in order to improve representation of women in the labour market by encouraging men to take on an equal role in family and child-rearing responsibilities. Negotiators hope to benefit children and family life as a whole by shoring up the role of a father or equivalent second parent, while promoting a more gender-equal work-life balance and reflecting societal progression.

David Casa, the European Parliament’s lead negotiator on the work-life balance agreement, said: “What we have achieved today will have a concrete, positive impact on the lives of citizens across the EU”. The rights agreed on by the negotiators include:

  • At least 10 working days of paternity leave for fathers or second parents, to be taken around the time of birth of adoption and to be paid at an equivalent or higher rate to sick pay;
  • Two months of non-transferable paid parental leave – Member States are encouraged to take into account when setting the rates of pay for parental leave that making use of this leave commonly results in a drop in family income and adjust allowances accordingly;
  • Alternatively, up to six months’ parental leave to be paid at a rate of at least 65 per cent of an employee’s net wage; and
  • Five days of carer’s leave per year for employees acting as carers for relatives or co-habitants with a serious medical condition or age-related difficulties.

Romanian Minister of Labour and Social Justice Marius-Constantin Budai said: “Today’s agreement is very welcome. It gives a huge boost to promoting equality of women and men across the EU. This directive will encourage the participation of women in the labour market and the equal sharing of care responsibilities between women and men. It will also contribute to closing the gender gap in earnings and pay.”

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