In April 2017 European Commission (EC) introduced a new 'Work-life Balance' Initiative aiming to address the challenges of working parents and carers in balancing their work and family responsibilities. Some of the key features of the directive are related to new or higher standards for parental, paternity and carer's leave, as well as the right to request flexible working arrangements. The document has been done taking care not to disproportionally affect small and small and medium-sized companies and provides funding to support member states in implementing it. The document has been reviewed by the European Parliament and the Council, who have just announced they reached a provisional agreement on this proposal. EC`s representatives expressed their satisfaction with this outcome, underlining this is a proposal that will directly impact lives of the EU citizens and help them better combine work and parenting and caring responsibilities, ensuring their economic prosperity, and leading to more social Europe.
According to their statement, this directive provides solutions for 21st century context and “sets a European minimum standard of 10 days of paternity leave for fathers following the birth of their child, to be compensated at the level of sick pay. It strengthens the existing right to 4 months of parental leave, by making 2 months non-transferable between parents and introducing compensation for these 2 months at a level to be determined by the Member States.” The agreement was also reached on “European provisions for carer's leave by attributing 5 days per worker per year, as a new European entitlement for workers. Last but not least, the new rules strengthen the right for all parents and carers to request flexible working arrangements”.
The directive which now has to be formally approved by both the Parliament and the Council will also support businesses, as they will be able to attract and retain the most talented and suitable workforce, both men and women.