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The European Parliament massively backs the EU Work-Life Balance Directive

The European Parliament adopted the Work-Life Balance Directive in its Plenary Session last 4th April with a landslide majority of 490 in favour, 82 against and 48 abstentions.

In her address to the Parliament, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, congratulated the European Parliament’s determination to find a positive outcome of the negotiations. She underlined that this Directive will not interfere with the choices of families, quite the contrary: it will give families more choice and will benefit both parents and carers. She then added that this was the first time that the concept of “carer” is introduced in an EU Directive.

The rapporteur of the Directive, David Casa, highlighted that the Directive will set up several new individual rights, not only for parents, but also for those who care for their relatives. On the same line, his colleague Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, the Rapporteur of the Directive in the European Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, considered that the Directive succeeded in giving both mothers and fathers the opportunity to have equal rights to take care of their children and to pursue their professional careers.

On similar words the shadow rapporteur of the Directive, Maria Arena, expressed her views, advancing that the law is certainly a step forward but underlined that the Parliament will closely monitor the transposition of the Directive. She encouraged Member States which want to go further than the minimum standards of the EU work-life balance directive, in moving towards greater equality in their country.

However, and despite the massive support for the Directive, several groups complained about the lack of ambition of the Directive, seeing it as a bitter-sweet victory, blaming the Council for only searching minimum standards. MEP Tania González welcomed the introduction of European minimum standards but regretted the level of payment of the different leaves, which she considered too low and will not sufficiently help to fight against poverty of families.