25 Jan
paternity leave Directive on work-life balance

Directive on work-life balance for EU citizens: Presidency of the Council reaches provisional agreement with the European Parliament

The Presidency of the Council and the European parliament yesterday, 24 January, reached a provisional agreement on some key elements of the proposal for a Directive on work-life balance for parents and careers. The agreement still needs to be approved by member states.

“This agreement is very welcome. It gives a huge boost to promoting equality of women and men across the EU. This directive will encourage the participation of women in the labour market and the equal sharing of care responsibilities between women and men. It will also contribute to closing the gender gap in earnings and pay”, has said Marius-Constantin Budai, Minister of Labour and Social Justice of Romania.

The aim of the proposal is to improve the access for working parents and carers to work-life balance arrangements, such as leaves and flexible working arrangements. The new directive will encourage men and women to take an equal share in family-related responsibilities. The new rules should also increase the take-up of family-related leaves and flexible working arrangements by men, thus making it easier for women to stay on the labour market. Parents and carers will be able to better reconcile their professional and private lives, and companies will benefit from more motivated workers.

Main elements of the proposal

– Fathers or second parents will be able to take at least 10 working days of paternity leave around the time of birth of a child paid at a level equal to that currently set at EU level for maternity leave (in line with article 11 of Council Directive 92/85/EEC). The right to paternity leave will not be subject to a prior service requirement. However, the payment of the paternity leave can be subject to a six month prior service requirement. Member states with more generous parental leave systems will be able to keep their current national arrangements.

Individual right to 4 months of parental leave, from which 2 months are non-transferable between the parents and are paid. The level of payment is to be set by member states.

– A new concept at EU level – carers’ leave for workers caring for relatives in need of care or support due to serious medical reasons. Carers will be able to take 5 working days per year.

Member states may use a different reference period, allocate leave on a case-by-case basis, and may introduce additional conditions for the exercise of this right; extension of the right to request flexible working arrangements to working carers in addition to this right for all parents.

Background and next steps

The European Commission presented its proposal in April 2017. On 21 June 2018 the Council adopted its position which formed the basis for the negotiations with the European parliament. Member states will now examine the provisional agreement, which still needs to be endorsed by the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee. The formal vote in both the Council and the European Parliament will follow at a later stage.

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By: Estela Martín

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