European & International News

Work-Life-Balance Directive: update end 2017

[Brussels, 12 December 2017] 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 will be part of the co-decision procedure which means that both the European Parliament and the European Council will negotiate to reach a final text.

Discussions have begun. The EPSCO (Council of Ministers responsible for Employment/Social Affairs/Consumer Affairs) held a first round of talks on 7-8 December. The preparatory report identifies some of the ‘sticking points’. These relate to pay, the non-transferable four months’ individual right to parental leave, and the definition of a ‘carer’, i.e. the basis for the right to take carer’s leave.

The European Parliament (EP) has designated MEP David Casa (European People’s Party - EPP) from Malta as the rapporteur for EMPLO and Agnieszka KOZŁOWSKA-RAJEWICZ (also EPP) for FEMM as both FEMM (women’s rights and gender equality ) and EMPL (employment) Committees will share responsibility for drafting the position of the EP. The work will begin at the end of February.

The European Economic and Social Committee (advisory role) adopted its position at the beginning of December. The EWL is currently consulting its members and will adopt its position in January. The EWL is also part of an ad-hoc coalition, led by Cofacé-Families Europe, to put pressure to adopt this long awaited legislative proposal. The coalition issued a joint statement and had a meeting with the (future) Bulgarian Presidency (January-July 2018) who will lead the discussions in the Council with the intention of reaching a general agreement, before handing over to Austria for the latter part of the year.

The EWL regrets that the current framework contains no legislative proposal to strengthen maternity rights. But expects that the ‘soft measures’ proposed to carry out a study on the implementation of the current maternity leave framework will bring sufficient evidence on discriminatory practices towards pregnant women and those returning to work after child birth to merit legislative changes in the future.

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