Elvira Méndez, Director of Salud y Familia, explains the campaign of the Catalan government in a recently published article: Encontrar tiempo dentro del Tiempo (“Finding time within time”). “Current organisation of time in our society has a negative impact on our lives.…
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.
The #iwantworklifebalance campaign is now officially over, but the battle for gender equality and worklife balance for all families is far from over, and you can count on COFACE Families Europe to keep pushing for non-legislative and legislative actions to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights. The EU work-life balance directive is now available in all EU languages.
It is now up to national civil society organisations to monitor the transposition of the directive over the next 3 years and push the minimum standards upwards. Congratulations to all the people who mobilised and supported our campaign!
Assessments and Papers
Assessment of the EU Work-Life Balance Directive (15 March 2019)
Paper on Work-Life Balance Part 2: An ambitious new EU deal for childcare (17 December 2018)
Assessment of the Council position on the Work-Life Balance Directive (22 June 2018)
Assessment of the European Commission Work-Life Balance package (14 June 2017)
Paper on Families on the Edge: The EU urgently needs to address the Work-Life Balance needs of women and men (8 March 2017)
Joint Statements & Media releases
Joint Letter to the EPSCO Council: Let’s move towards swift transposition of the EU Work-Life Balance Directive! – WLB Alliance: (12 June 2019)
Open Letter to the EPSCO Council: Congratulations, nearly there! – WLB Alliance: (11 March 2019)
Press Release of the Provisional agreement reached by EU co-legislators on Work-Life Balance measures (24 January 2019)
Open Letter to the EPSCO Council: Stop blocking progress of negotiations on the EU Work-Life Balance directive!: (4 December 2018)
Open Letter to EU Institutions: Listen up: Here is what voters want from the EU Work-life balance directive- WLB Alliance: (5 November 2018)
Open Letter for the EPSCO Council to adopt a position on the EU Work-Life Balance directive – WLB Alliance: (18 June 2018)
Open Letter: M. le Président Macron, passez à l’acte !- in French (15 April 2018)
Media release: The new EU Work Life Balance Directive presents solutions to empower women and contribute to gender equality (8 March 2018)
Press Release: Launch of the #IwantWorkLifeBalance Social Media campaign (23 October 2017)
Press Release: Coalition of EU NGOs endorses European Commission’s comprehensive Work-Life Balance Package (26 April 2017)
Press Release: Vote YES to strengthen Work-Life Balance opportunities for Europe’s families – WLB Alliance (6 September 2016)
Surveys and polls
Eurobarometer survey on WLB
EIGE’s Gender Equality Index (2019): The Gender Equality Index (GEI) is a tool to measure the progress of gender equality in the EU, developed by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). Work-Life Balance was chosen as 2019 thematic focus of the GEI.
European Commission’s report on Gender Equality (2019)
The Ligue des familles has conducted a survey of families in Brussels and Wallonia, to measure new emerging trends. It appears that Belgian families are made of three different groups: 61% represent a «standard» family i.e. father, mother and their…
COFACE Families Europe and its German member Arbeitsgemeinschaft der deutschen Familien organisationen (AGF) jointly held a conference on 'The impact of digitalisation on 21st century families' in Berlin on 7-8 November with the hashtag #digitalfamiliesEU Our aim was to lead the way in…
Work Autonomy, Flexibility and Work-Life Balance (WAF Project) is a European research project of the University of Kent and COFACE is part of the Policy advisory Board since 2014, together with representatives of the Social Partners, ILO, EuroFound and others.…
The European Reconciliation Package is a unique policy document, as it covers the entire European Union, as well applies a systemic approach to the complex issue of work-life balance, to both its related challenges and possible solutions. It is the main policy…
The #IwantWorkLifeBalance campaign was launched in October 2017 to shore up citizen support for the EU Work Life Balance Directive as a first channel to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights and make a real contribution to achieving…
Since 2016 when COFACE Families Europe published a European study of toy catalogues “Making or breaking stereotypes?”, we published 6 Toys & Diversity principles and have run a social media campaign on #ToysandDiversity as part of our work to promote equal…
On 17 November Eurofound, jointly with the Employment and Social Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, presented the results of its sixth European Working Conditions Survey. The findings cover a large number of issues, including work organisation, work-life balance, health…
On 10th October, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women (CSW) held its Forum on Economic Empowerment of Women & Girls-Forum at the United Nations in Geneva opened by Michael Møller, Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva and Simone…
The European Parliament voted on September 13th the resolution “Creating labour market conditions favourable for work-life balance” (by 443 votes in favour, 123 against and 100 abstention). We were very glad that our efforts paid off and the European Parliament…
PRESS RELEASE 6 September 2016, Brussels - On September the 13th, the European Parliament will be called on to vote the report 2016/2017(INI) “Creating labour market conditions favourable for work-life balance”. We are 11 networks of NGOs and Local Authorities…
The Bulgarian Center of Women's Studies and Policies, COFACE member, is presenting, together with the partners of the CARVE project, the “European guide of best practices: companies fighting gender-based violence” in Brussels on 16 June. The guide is thought and…