European & International News

Work-Life-Balance Directive: update beginning 2019

[Brussels, 7 February 2019] In April 2017, the European Commission launched its proposal for a Directive on family related leave covering parental leave, paternity leave, carer’s leave and the right to request flexible working arrangements on return to work for reasons related to care responsibilities. The Directive, once adopted, will replace the existing EU Directive on Parental leave (2010/18/EU) negotiated and adopted by the Social Partners in 2010. The WLB Directive is part of the co-decision procedure (trilogies), which means that both the European Parliament and the European Council are negotiating to reach a final text.

After 5 months of trilogues, the co-legislators have reached a provisional agreement, which entails a European minimum standards of 10 days paternity leave around the birth of the child (paid at sick-leave level), 4 months of parental leave (with minimum 2 months non-transferable and paid, with payment to be determined by national governments) and 5 days/year of carers leave per worker (with payment to be decided by national governments).

Nonetheless, it must be stressed that the directive will bring little change in the best-performing countries, whose generous leave systems already allow them to meet the minimum standards. In addition, for parental leave and carers leave, no European thresholds on payment have been established, leading to a lack of homogeneity in the levels of welfare. Finally, access to parental and paternity leave will be subject respectively to one year and six months of service with the employer.

On 6 February, the Council of Ministers has approved the provisional agreement, which leads the directive to the next step with the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. If the latter votes in favour of the directive, the final vote in the plenary will take place in March.

The European Women’s Lobby is confident that we will soon be moving towards transposition and reiterates that the time to act is NOW to reach a conclusion on the WLB directive before the end of the mandate of the European Parliament and the renewal of the European Commission.

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