03.08.2022 Human Resources Trends

New rights to improve work-life balance in the EU enter into application

european commission work life balance

All Member States must apply EU-wide rules to improve work-life balance for parents and carers adopted in 2019. These rules set out minimum standards for paternity, parental and carers’ leave and establish additional rights, such as the right to request flexible working arrangements, which will help people develop their careers and family life without having to sacrifice either.

These rights, which come in addition to existing maternity leave rights, were achieved under the European Pillar of Social Rights and is a key milestone towards building a Union of Equality.

Work-life balance for parents and carers

The Directive on work-life balance aims to both increase (i) the participation of women in the labour market and (ii) the take-up of family-related leave and flexible working arrangements. Overall, women’s employment rate in the EU is 10.8 percentage points lower than men’s. Moreover, only 68% of women with care responsibilities work compared to 81% of men with the same duties. The Directive allows workers leave to care for relatives who need support and overall means that parents and carers are able to reconcile professional and private lives.

  Paternity leave: Working fathers are entitled to at least 10 working days of paternity leave around the time of birth of the child. Paternity leave must be compensated at least at the level of sick pay;

  Parental leave: Each parent is entitled to at least four months of parental leave, of which two months is paid and non-transferable. Parents can request to take their leave in a flexible form, either full-time, part-time, or in segments;

  Carers’ leave: All workers providing personal care or support to a relative or person living in the same household have the right to at least five working days of carers’ leave per year;

  Flexible Working Arrangements: All working parents with children of up to at least eight years old and all carers have the right to request reduced working hours, flexible working hours, and flexibility in the place of work.

Next steps

As set out by President von der Leyen in her Political Guidelines, the Commission will ensure the full implementation of the Work-Life Balance Directive, which will help bring more women into the labour market and help fight child poverty. The Commission will support Member States in applying the new rules including through the European Social Fund+ to improve the quality and accessibility of early childhood education and care systems.

Member States are required to transpose the Directive into national law by today. In a next step, the Commission will assess the completeness and compliance of the national measures notified by each Member State, and take action if and where necessary.

Source: the European Commission