For International Women’s Day 2021, COFACE hosted a Policy and Advocacy session on gender inequalities in care and pay on 9th March. This came in a crucial moment of social developments within the EU. The Study Session immediately followed the…
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)
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