Delivering on Social Europe: a Work-Life-Balance Directive

On the 24th of January, little more than one year after the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the Work-Life-Balance Directive. The agreement is a crucial step towards the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and a positive sign showing people that Europe cares about their well-being.

Proposed by the European Commission in 2017, the aim of the directive was to set minimum standards for EU Member States regarding paternity leave, parental leave, carers leave and the right to request flexible work arrangements in order to encourage men and women to take an equal share in family-related responsibilities. Was the aim reached? Let’s have a closer look at what this Directive provides:

  • 10 days of paternity leave
  • 4 months of parental leave, of which 2 months are non-transferable between parents
  • 5 days of carers leave each year
  • The right to request flexible working arrangements for working parents and working carers
  • Recognition that families can take different forms with reference to ‘equivalent second parent’

However, when comparing the European Commission’s proposal of 2017 with the provisional agreement reached, it is clear that the once ambitious proposal was watered down significantly in the process of intense negotiations. While the original proposal set the level of pay for all types of leave at minimum sick pay level, this has only survived in relation to paternity leave. For all other types of leave, it is up for EU Member States to decide on an appropriate level of pay.

What are the next steps? The provisional agreement has yet to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.

To read more about national media coverage on this, please visit Coface Families Europe website.