banner_campaign Work-Life Balance

Work-Life Balance (WLB) is at the very core of COFACE’s work

COFACE Families Europe has been intensively promoting and advocating for specific EU measures on Work-Life Balance for years and has campaigned over the last decade to EU Institutions underlying the challenges that families and carers face in reconciling their professional and private life. We have been supporting the notion of WLB for all, based on measures that tackle the stereotypical vision of “traditional” and old-fashioned distributions of roles, where women are caregivers and men are the breadwinners.

Our vision is to allow families to choose how to reconcile work and family life, allowing more men to care and more women to work, decreasing the gender care gap, and secure economic independence therefore.

The agreement on the EU Work-Life Balance Directive on 24th January 2019, its adoption by the European Parliament and the Council in April and June respectively, and the publication in the Official Journal of the EU on 12th July, has been a road full of hurdles. The Directive covers aspects of Time (family leaves and flexible working arrangements) and some of the Resources (through the adequate payment for certain leaves), and also paves the way for future action on access to Services.

While the agreement consists of lower standards than the initial European Commission proposal, the Work-Life Balance Directive, as the first legislative proposal to follow the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights in November 2017, is a good step in the right direction. This is an important step for gender equality in Europe.

COFACE Families Europe launched last 15th March a thorough Assessment of the Directive. The Assessment underlines how the Directive paves the way for a strengthening European values of gender equality, social inclusion, diversity and non-discrimination; examines the new minimum standards on paid family leaves (paternity, parental, carers); considers the employment rights and right to request flexible arrangements which hold potential to change workplace culture; and finally underlines some derogation clauses which require further assessment. The document ends with guidelines for transposition to consolidate national policies and legislation.

COFACE also launched the #iwantworklifebalance campaign in 2017 to ensure that both Parliament and Council would not block the European legislative process (as was the case with a European maternity leave legislation revision which was blocked in Council for 8 years).
Our campaign aimed to mobilise social networks, civil society, high-level politicians, the penguins (penguins share parenting), and many more, to avoid a “Maternity Leave II” situation.

Last but not least, COFACE created and leaded a coalition of some 15 European civil society networks and organisations, the WLB Alliance, to advocate for the adoption of the WLB Directive and to monitor the whole process through several Open Letters and Joint Statements.


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