July 23, 2018
The European Parliament has approved new rules for paternity leave, non-transferable parental leave and measures for flexible working in a bid to improve the current work/life balance of parents and carers across EU member states. These rules are also hoped to address the under-representation of women in parts of the labour market, increase incentives for fathers to take up family-related leave and to foster gender equality and equal opportunities. MEPs claims this will benefit children and a family life, whilst reflecting societal changes more accurately and promoting gender equality.
MEPs backed the European Commission proposal introducing the right to paid paternity leave of at least 10 working days for fathers around the time of birth or stillbirth. However, they extended the scope to cover equivalent second parents, as defined in national law and in the event of adoption of a child.
They also added provisions for 4 months of non-transferable parental leave to be taken before a child is 10 years old. This leave should be an individual right, creating the right conditions for a more balanced distribution of responsibilities.
Finally, paid carer’s leave for workers providing personal care to a person in a serious medical condition or age-related impairment was adopted.
Leave take-up rates among parents depend on many factors, stressed MEPs. In order to encourage a higher-paid family member (who is usually a man) to take it, they propose that the level of the payment or allowance should be at least equivalent to 78% of the worker´s gross wage in the case of parental leave and carer’s leave and to 80% in the case of paternity leave.
In order for the rules to be implemented smoothly, ensuring that the workers in micro and small companies could also fully benefit from these rights, MEPs proposed introducing a reasonable notice period, specifying the intended beginning and end of the parental leave period, taking into account the constraints to working arrangements and planning that small firms face.
MEPs also want workers, whose child is up to the age of 10, to be able to adjust their working patterns, including where feasible, through remote working or flexible schedules. They stress that the employer should justify any postponement of parental leave in writing and in the case of justified postponement, where possible, offer flexible forms of parental leave.