MEPs back measures to reconcile career and private life

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Prince George receives a gift from the Governor-General of Australia, Sir Peter Cosgrove, in April 2014 (Auspic/Commonwealth of Australia )

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.

Employment Committee MEPs today approved paternity leave, non-transferable parental leave and measures to boost women’s chances in the labour market.

The draft rules set minimum requirements for member states, in a bid to boost women’s representation in the workplace and strengthen the role of a father or an equivalent second parent in the family. This would benefit children and a family life, whilst reflecting societal changes more accurately and promoting gender equality.

Paternal, parental and carer’s leave

MEPs backed the European Commission proposal introducing the right to paid paternity leave of at least 10 working days for fathers around the time of birth or stillbirth. However, they extended the scope to cover equivalent second parents, as defined in national law and in the event of adoption of a child.

They also added provisions for 4 months of non-transferable parental leave to be taken before a child is 10 years old. This leave should be an individual right, creating the right conditions for a more balanced distribution of responsibilities.

Finally, paid carer’s leave for workers providing personal care to a person in a serious medical condition or age-related impairment was adopted.

Right to payment

Leave take-up rates among parents depend on many factors, stressed MEPs. In order to encourage a higher-paid family member (who is usually a man) to take it, they propose that the level of the payment or allowance should be at least equivalent to 78% of the worker´s gross wage in the case of parental leave and carer’s leave and to 80% in the case of paternity leave.

Adaptable working

In order for the rules to be implemented smoothly, ensuring that the workers in micro and small companies could also fully benefit from these rights, MEPs proposed introducing a reasonable notice period, specifying the intended beginning and end of the parental leave period, taking into account the constraints to working arrangements and planning that small firms face.

MEPs also want workers, whose child is up to the age of 10, to be able to adjust their working patterns, including where feasible, through remote working or flexible schedules. They stress that the employer should justify any postponement of parental leave in writing and in the case of justified postponement, where possible, offer flexible forms of parental leave.

Quote

David Casa (EPP, MT), the lead MEP said: “We have succeeded in producing an ambitious yet balanced report. We were able to strengthen the Commission’s proposal and at the same time introduce safeguards for employers, particularly SMEs and micro enterprises. The Work Life Balance Directive could see a significant increase in the rights of parents and carers across the EU and help caring responsibilities to be shared more fairly between men and women. The result of the vote in the Committee gives us a strong mandate to enter into negotiations with the Council in September.”

Next steps

The text was adopted by 34 votes to 14 with 4 abstentions. Three-way negotiations with the Commission and the Council, which has already reached its common position, should start in September.

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