News June – Open Letter

EPSCO Council results on gender pay gap and work-life balance

Last 13th June, the EPSCO Council adopted conclusions and measures aimed at closing the gender pay gap, which includes recommendations on Work-Life Balance measures. The Council recalls in its conclusions the Commission’s EU Action Plan 2017-2019 on tackling the gender pay gap. Among the root causes of gender pay gap, the Commission underlines the unequal sharing of care responsibilities between women and men. The Council on its series of recommendations refers to the need to reinforce work-life balance measures, allowing more men to care and more women to work and decreasing therefore the gender care gap.

The recommendations that the Council advances are much in line with COFACE’s long-term demands:

  • Measures to improve the provision of accessible, quality and affordable care services, including for young children, elderly persons, and persons with long-term care needs;
  • Measures to promote work-life balance in the workplace, establish voluntary certification systems, provide vocational training, raise awareness, and carry out information campaigns;
  • Measures to improve the rights and support provided to employees to better reconcile their caring and professional responsibilities and to improve the take-up of such rights by men as well as facilitate workers’ return to work following a period of leave;
  • Measures to promote the equal sharing of caring responsibilities between women and men;
  • Measures to encourage relevant stakeholders, including the social partners, and businesses, to adopt practices conducive to the reconciliation of work, family and private life;
  • Measures to raise awareness about the rights and arrangements related to work-Life Balance for parents and carers in order to facilitate the use of these rights and arrangements, in particular by men.

Finally, the Council demands the Commission to, among all, set out a post-2019 Gender Equality Strategy, which should include policies to close the gender pay gap, and bolster the gender equality perspective in all policy areas, including in youth, education and employment policies and other programmes.

The Council conclusions can be found here (in English).

The same day, the EPSCO Council finally adopted the EU Work-Life Balance Directive. The Commission is expected to publish it in the Official Journal of the EU on 12th July, and the Directive will entry into force three weeks later. See a full update on the EU work-life balance directive on the COFACE website.