Work Life Balance(2)

BREAKING NEWS: Provisional agreement reached by EU co-legislators on work-life balance measures

Brussels, 24 January 2019, MEDIA RELEASE

EU strengthens social rights for families ahead of uncertain future

After 5 months of trilogues on the EU work-life balance directive, the co-legislators have reached a provisional agreement. What is left of the original proposal of the European Commission? Should we view the glass as half empty or half full?

A piece of employment legislation, this directive is one of the deliverables of the European Pillar for Social Rights and part of the ‘New Start’ initiative to address the work-life balance challenges faced by working parents and carers. This initiative seeks to take into account the developments in society over the past decade to enable parents and other people with caring responsibilities to better balance their work and family lives and to encourage a better sharing of caring responsibilities between women and men.

Many existing European employment laws consolidate the rights of workers and fight poverty. This latest piece of legislation provides a mix of employment rights, measures to fight family and child poverty, and especially helps working parents and working carers to keep their jobs.

Glass Half Full

As a result of this political agreement, European families can count on the following:

  • European minimum standards of 10 days paternity leave around the birth of the child (paid at sick-leave level), 4 months of parental leave (with minimum 2 months non-transferable and paid, with payment to be determined by national governments) and 5 days/year of carers leave per worker (with payment to be decided by national governments).
  • Acknowledgement of family diversity in the 21st century with references to “equivalent second parent” in the legislation;
  • Recognition of the need for both universal measures for all families and specific measures for families in vulnerable situations;
  • Recommendations to governments to provide adequate levels of compensation for family leaves in order to allow men and women to take up leaves and minimize loss of income for families;
  • Awareness of their governments that measures for working carers need to be strengthened to account for demographic changes and emerging needs;
  • A commitment to close monitoring by the European Commission of the directive implementation which requires national governments to collect data on the take-up of leaves and flexible working arrangements.

Glass Half Empty

However, as a result of negotiations between the co-legislators, this directive will lead to little change in some countries in relation to the family-related leaves covered by the directive. Some countries will have to reach the European minimum standards, and therefore see real changes. While other countries with leave systems which are significantly more generous than the standards of the directive (best-performing countries) will be able to take from existing leaves in order to meet the minimum requirements of the directive.

Furthermore, we have a minimum European threshold on payment only for paternity leave, while for parental leave and carers leave decisions on payment are left to national governments. This is a missed opportunity to harmonise levels of welfare across the EU.

Finally, access to some leaves will be subject to a certain length of service with the employer, with one year of service before qualifying for parental leave and 6 months of service before qualifying for paternity leave.

Annemie Drieskens, COFACE Families Europe President: “The European Union showed leadership by agreeing this legislative initiative in order to kick-start national reforms to meet the emerging needs of families in a changing society and labour market. While COFACE expectations have not been fully met with this directive, we acknowledge that every step towards an improved paternity leave system, parental leave system allowing fathers and mothers to take time for their children, and a carers leave system will benefit the well-being of all family members. This directive is a step in the right direction. We now expect national governments to consolidate those social rights and move towards swift transposition. In doing so they must consider the possibility of upward reforms so that European families no longer have to choose between work or family”.

Next steps

The EU institutions will now finalise the technical details of the agreement, and vote to ratify the agreement. COFACE Families Europe and its members will analyse the agreement in detail, and provide guidelines for transposition in the best interest of families, ensuring both a mix of universal measures and targeted measures for families in vulnerable situations.
For more information, contact Isabell Wutz, Communications officer

Media coverage

  •  Austria (Austria): Mehr Rechte für berufstätige Eltern

  • Belgium

De Tijd (Belgium): Tien dagen kraamverlof voor vaders in heel Europa

Le Soir (Belgium) : Pères et mères disposeront désormais de plus de congés dans l’Union européenne

Sudinfo (Belgium): Les dix jours de congé de paternité seront étendus à toute l’UE

7sur7 (Belgium) : Les dix jours de congé de paternité seront étendus à toute l’UE

RTBF (Belgium): Vers une harmonisation des congés parentaux en Europe

  • France

Le Monde (France) : Vers un nouvel accord européen sur les congés parentaux et les congés d’aidants

Le Figaro (France) : Un congé paternité de dix jours minimum en Europe

Vie publique (France) : Congés de maternité et de paternité : le baromètre de la Drees

Le telegramme (France) : Union européenne. Accord pour un minimum de dix jours de congé de paternité

  • Germany

ZEIT (Germany): EU stärkt Rechte berufstätiger Eltern

Dresdner Neuste Nachrichte (Germany): Diese neuen Rechte erhalten berufstätige Eltern in der EU  

Handelsblatt (Germany): Mehr Rechte für berufstätige Eltern in der EU

Kieler Nachrichten (Germany): Diese neuen Rechte erhalten berufstätige Eltern in der EU

Saarbrücker Zeitung (Germany): Mehr Rechte für berufstätige Eltern in der EU

ZDF (Germany): Berufstätige Eltern: Mehr Rechte in der EU

Tagesschau (Germany): Mehr Rechte für Eltern in der EU

Juris (Germany): Neue EU-Regeln zur besseren Vereinbarkeit von Beruf und Familie beschlossen

WELT (Germany): Zehn Tage Vaterschaftsurlaub für alle – und der Ärger ist groß

  • Hungary

Magyarhirlap (Hungary) : Megállapodás született a munka és a magánélet közötti egyensúly megteremtéséről szóló uniós irányelvről

  • Italy

Euronews (Italy) : La Commissione Ue propone congedo di paternità di 10 giorni

ADNKronos (Italy) : Dieci giorni di congedo paternità, la proposta Ue

Lavoro (Italy) : Congedi di paternità, Bruxelles fissa almeno 10 giorni

Corriere (Italy) : Congedo di paternità: la Commissione Ue propone 10 giorni

Agenzia Nova (Italy) : Ue: raggiunto accordo provvisorio per direttiva su equilibrio tra vita professionale e privata

In Terris (Italy) : Importanti novità sul congedo parentale

La Repubblica (Italy) : Congedo di paternità, via libera Ue a 10 giorni obbligatori

  • Netherlands

RTL Nieuws (Netherlands) : Akkoord in EU: kraamverlof vaders straks minimaal tien dagen

NRC (Netherlands): Akkoord in Brussel: vaders recht op 10 dagen kraamverlof (Netherlands): Nieuwe vaders in Europese Unie krijgen recht op tien dagen kraamverlof

AD (Nethlerands): Kersverse vaders krijgen voortaan minimaal 10 dagen verlof

  • Spain

ABC (Spain) : Europa, hacia la conciliación: el permiso paternal será de 4 meses y 2 de ellos no transferibles

El Pais (Spain) : La UE acuerda cuatro meses de permiso para ambos progenitores

Eldiario (Spain) : El acuerdo de la UE sobre conciliación establece cuatro meses de permiso parental y días libres para cuidadores

La Vanguardia (Spain) : Acuerdo de principios en Bruselas sobre la directiva europea de conciliación

La Republica (Spain) : La Unión Europea acuerda un permiso de cuatro meses para todos los progenitores (Spain) : La UE acuerda un permiso de 4 meses para cuidar de los hijos, con 2 meses intransferibles y retribuidos

TribunaFeminista (Spain) : El Parlamento y el Consejo acuerdan dos meses de permiso parental no transferible

  • Pan-European :

Agence Europe: European Parliament and Council reach a minimum agreement on Directive on work-life balance

EuObserver: EU to guarantee fathers 10 days paid paternity leave

Note to editor

COFACE Families Europe is a European network of civil society associations representing the interests of families (all types, without discrimination). COFACE’s areas of work include social/family policy, education, disability, gender equality, migration, consumer issues, and also protection of children online, privacy, data protection and reflections on technological developments and how they may impact families. More:

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