NewsMarch07 UpdateWLB

Update on the Work Life Balance dossier

  • From 1 to 8 March, we asked our penguins to go around social media to spread the message that Work-Life Balance is not only a means to get more women into the labour market but first and foremost a measure of social justice and equality. Women’s rights are human rights but women are still too often discriminated and relegated into secondary positions. Well, it is time to change. We believe that women’s economic empowerment, through employment, and men’s “care empowerment”, through targeted measures promoting their participation in care and family tasks, can be a step towards a more equal society. This is why we spelled it out, one message every day for eight days, ending on the International Women’s Day, on 8 March. Missed our messages? Check here!
  • The ESF Thematic Network on Employment met in Trento on 8-9 March. The meeting was preceded by a high level conference on 7 March, where women’s economic empowerment and work-life balance were at the heart of the discussions. COFACE participated (remotely) in a panel, together with OECD, EIGE and the Italian National Agency ANPAL, to discuss how work-life balance measures can support women’s employment and how the directive which is currently in discussion could improve the situation in the EU.
  • On 15 March, the EU Employment Ministers met and, among other things, they discussed how to close the gender pay gap, thereby contributing to the achievement of the goals of the European Pillar of social rights (6423/18). The Council noted that “the gender pay gap is also rooted in structural causes. A whole range of work-life balance measures are needed to make equal access to employment a reality.” We welcome this timely acknowledgement and we call on the Council to swiftly come to an agreement on the Work-Life Balance, to transform these words into a reality.
  • On 22 March, our President took the floor in an event organised by MEP Marie Arena and MEP Agnes Jongerius to discuss the business case on Work-Life Balance. Representatives from companies also took the floor and made clear that being able to reconcile work, private and family life contributes to the motivation and loyalty of the workforce and in periods like these where companies are fighting for talents, being able to retain workers is of a primary importance and that “work-Life balance is not about putting most women in top positions, but creating the framework to have the best person in that job”.
  • On the EU front, EMPL rapporteur MEP Casa (see text here) and FEMM Rapporteur MEP Kozłowska-Rajewicz (see text here) published their draft reports. These texts will be presented in the EMPL and FEMM Committees on 27 March.

We will attend and listen to the considerations of Rapporteurs, but it is possible to already present some preliminary comments: COFACE welcomes that MEP Casa took into consideration some of the main points we have been advocacting for, leaving non-transferability untouched and proposing to be ambitious on the level of pay for parental and carers’ leave, raising the level to 75% of the worker gross wage. We also welcome that MEP Kozłowska-Rajewicz introduced the idea of moving away from the notion of “dependency” and instead, aligning to the UN CRPD language, promoted to talk about people with disabilities as persons with support needs. We regret, however, that both draft reports included a number of exceptions to the rule for MSMEs.

COFACE believes that, while it is important to consider challenges that SMEs may encounter, it is important to avoid creating differences among workers and their rights, only because of their place of work. To ensure that these and others points will be considered further by the rapporteurs and Members of the EMPL and FEMM Committees, we will present our views to as many political groups and MEPs as possible in the coming weeks, to raise awareness while MEPs are tabling their amendments to the text. Our main points will focus on the definition of carers and their eligibility for carers’ leave, specific needs of single parents and rainbow families, non-transferability and level of pay of leaves. Deadline for amendments is mid-April, in the next update we will inform you about the amendments tabled by MEPs.

Read more about the #IwantWorkLifeBalance campaign

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