The European Parliament and the Council have reached a deal on a Work/Life Balance Package. The aim of the measures is to help workers balance their professional and family lives and to work towards a modern family policy and economic prosperity for families all around Europe.
Work/Life balance is an issue which concerns many people in the workforce and it needs to be tackled with concrete policy measures both in Europe and in Ireland.
According to figures from the EU, the impact of parenthood on the labour market participation still varies greatly for women and men – only 65.5% of women with children under 12 work, compared to 90.3% of men.
Across the European Union, women remain considerably underrepresented in the labour market and in management:
• The overall employment rate of women is still 11.6 pp lower than that of men.
• 31.5% of working women work part-time vs. 8.2% of working men. This is especially the case for those with children.
• Just over 50% of women work full-time, compared to 71.2% of men. Therefore, the full-time employment rate gap reaches 25.5 pp.
• Caring responsibilities are reasons for inactivity for almost 20% inactive women, while this is only the case for less than 2% of men.
The workplace can be an exciting and exhilarating place. However it can also be a challenging place. What many people will struggle with is getting their work/life balance right. We are doing a lot of work at the European Parliament on the promotion of a good work/life balance and I am delighted to see there are now further developments in this area which can help those in the workforce who need it.
The Irish Government is doing great work to help support working parents but it is also important that businesses play their part in supporting their employees. I am conscious too that employers, particularly in small businesses, will fear the cost of introducing flexibility but it will go a long way in the long run as they will retain valuable, skilled employees.”
What did the EPP Group achieve?
- Paternity leave: 10 days paid at sick pay level which would improve the current situation in 13 Member States.
- The introduction of the “bonus passerelle clause” will allow Member States that have already good systems in place to transfer one leave into the other, but only under certain conditions. In order to be allowed to transfer 10 days of parental leave as paternity leave, a MS would need to provide for at least six months of parental leave for each parent, and secondly – these six months would need to be paid at and adequate level (at least 65% of net wage).
- Carer’s leave (five days per year, or an equivalent over a whole career) - MS are encouraged to provide a payment or allowance for carer’s leave: depending on how the “ carer’s leave “ is defined, this would have a positive impact on 17 MS. In addition to the right to carers' leave, all workers should maintain their right to take time off from work, without loss of employment rights, on the grounds of force majeure for urgent and unexpected family reasons, under the conditions established by the Member States.”
- Flexible working arrangements: Employers are obliged to consider and respond within a reasonable period of time to requests for flexible working arrangements taking into account the needs of both employers and workers. Employers should justify in writing any refusal or postponement. After the period of flexible working arrangement, the worker has the right to return to the same working pattern.
- Possible extension to self-employment and adoption leave