EWL News

Signs of life from the Irish Presidency - more hope for the Maternity Leave Directive during the next Lithuanian semester?

(Brussels, 24 April 2013) Questions raised in an exchange of views in Brussels today addressed the blocked Maternity Leave Directive adopted by the Parliament in 2010. The Council of the EU has yet to respond by adopting a position. Their position is needed in order to move to a second reading and unblock the stalled directive. The meeting was in the context of the structured dialogue between Parliament and the Commission which has already been stuck for quite some time - the Maternity Leave Directive has been blocked for 2 years.

The EWL has been pushing since December 2012 with its "2 Years Overdue"campaign to get the Directive into a second reading phase to ensure pregnant women’s rights in the workplace and ensure full protection of their jobs upon return to the labour market.

Pregnancy and maternity protection is essential for achieving gender equality and the protection of women’s rights. Throughout the EU, parenthood continues to have a significant long-term negative impact on women’s earnings and their participation in the labour market which is a serious barrier to attaining the EU’s objective of a 75% employment rate for women and men by 2020.

Ensuring that women are paid their full salary during their maternity leave is a prerequisite to substantive equality and to ensure that they are not economically penalised for having children. It also is a means of ensuring women’s economic independence, as indeed, the reduction of income during maternity leave contributes to the gender pay gap and lower life-long earnings for women.

Payment of women’s full salary or equivalent to 100% of their last monthly salary means that women would continue to pay tax and social security contributions which would contribute to the public purse.

The EWL have met with representatives of the Irish Presidency of the Council of Europe who are continuing to work on this dossier.

Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the Commission and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, responded to the question on the Maternity Leave Directive with reference to the Lithuanian Labour Minister who expressed an interest in taking up contact with the Directive’s rapporteur, Edite Estrella during the upcoming Lithuanian Presidency.

We’ll be watching this space!

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