Press releases

SOS – DELIVER NOW! Bring back the Maternity Leave Directive

[Brussels, 23 September 2014] At the eve of the forthcoming hearings of the new European Commission, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) calls on the new Commission in particular Ms Jourova Commissioner responsible for Gender Equality, and Ms Thyssen Commissioner responsible for Employment, to save the Maternity Leave Directive, which has been on the table since 2010 and recently threatened to be withdrawn by the European Commission, in the name of red tape.
We particularly expect that Commissioner Jourova, in her role as Commissioner responsible for Gender Equality a newly welcomed post in the future Commission, will act immediately and save the Maternity Leave Directive.

“The threat to remove the Maternity Leave Directive from the legislative process is serious as it negates Europe’s rhetoric on its commitment to gender equality and effective work-life balance for women and men in Europe. Adopting a stronger maternity leave Directive would have a positive and direct benefit to millions of families and would send a positive message to people across the EU that it is committed to their rights.” states Joanna Maycock, EWL Secretary General.

The EWL invites everyone who wants to make their voice heard to save the Maternity Directive to bring it back on the European political agenda, to a “PHOTO BOOTH” event at the Esplanade in front of the European Parliament, between 12:30-14:30 on Wednesday 24th September to show SOLIDARITY for women in Europe.

“Despite existing laws that protect pregnant workers, we know that more and more women today are experiencing discrimination in the work place as a direct result of pregnancy and/or birth. This is why it is urgent to strengthen the rights and protection of women during pregnancy and on return to work.” stated Mary Collins, EWL Policy Officer “Women continue to earn 16% on average less than men and it is often at the moment of childbirth that the gender pay gap kicks in, with life- long often irreversible consequences, as their pension is 40% less than men.”

The European Women’s Lobby calls on all the European institutions to DELIVER NOW! Calls on the European Parliament to maintain its position, adopted by an overwhelming majority in 2010 and calls on the EU Member States to engage and move forward for a robust Maternity Directive to ensure that all women in Europe have equal rights.

Sign the online petition here.
Tweet on the hashtag: #DeliverNow


Notes to Editors:

For Media Enquiries – contact Elvira Buijink, +32 2/210 04 40

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL)

The EWL is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 28 EU member states and three candidate countries, as well as to 21 European-wide bodies, representing a total of more than 2000 organisations.

The Maternity leave Directive:

The proposed Maternity Leave Directive, adopted democratically by a large majority of the European Parliament in first reading on 20 October 2010, has been blocked by Member State governments (Council) for over three years despite ongoing attempts to find a negotiated position and subsequent decision which never materialised.

The proposed Maternity Leave Directive is an all-encompassing set of proposals to strengthen the rights of pregnant workers and women returning to work following childbirth and/or who are breastfeeding. These include, up to 20 weeks fully paid leave, a mandatory six-week rest period before or after birth whenever they choose, extension of the same rights to domestic workers and adoptive mothers, specific measures for multiple births and disabilities, protection from dismissal for six months, protection from imposed night shifts and overtime and flexibility for breastfeeding mothers. In addition, a two-week fully paid paternity leave provision is included in the European Parliament’s adopted position, which bridges the gap in relation to paternity leave (also available to same sex couples) as there is no European Directive on this form of leave. It should also be noted that a passerelle clause is included for countries where a strong parental leave framework is in place, which means that the reality of the situation in different countries is taken into account and that women who are pregnant, have given birth and/or who are breastfeeding have the same rights throughout the European Union.

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