During the final phase of negotiations of the work-life balance directive, our member organization in France UNAF urges its government to seize this opportunity to help parents of young children to maintain their employment.
The family organisations call on the representatives of France to be a driving force so that the text will be adopted before the European elections and can lead the way to minimum standards in Europe. Establishing a proper compensation for parental leave is one of the key principles and a prerequisite for gender equality.
In France, the current compensation for parental leave is very insufficient (€394/month). Furthermore, the rule to share one third of the parental leave has led to the fact that fathers have not chosen to use their share because of low level of compensation and the income gaps between men and women. Although the sharing obligation was intended to encourage fathers to take parental leave, the effect was reversed: the number of fathers was reduced by 14%.
Evidence suggests that parents drop out of work or reduce work to care for their young child, but do so less and less in the formal and protective context of compensated parental leave. Parents probably resort to a “DIY” structure (resignation, unemployment benefits, etc.) with crucial long-term consequences on their jobs, especially those of mothers.
There is an urgent need to improve the work-life balance of families in France. The proposal for a directive discussed in Brussels provides an opportunity to do so. In the run-up to the European elections, what could be more convincing than to demonstrate in concrete terms that Europe can contribute to improving the daily lives of families?