Fabian Demicoli

Parental Leave- Commission proposal

 

The aim of the proposal is to give legal effect to the revised Framework Agreement on parental leave, concluded by the European cross-industry social partners (BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME, CEEP and ETUC) on 18 June 2009. The revised Agreement extends male and female workers' individual right to parental leave from three months to four months and introduces several improvements and clarifications relating to the exercise of that right. Workers will be protected against discrimination on the grounds of applying for or taking parental leave. The return to work after the leave period will be facilitated, in particular by granting the workers the right to request flexible working. The Agreement and this proposal will contribute to better reconciliation of work, private and family life and to promoting gender equality on the labour market.

In its Resolution of 3rd September 2008, the European Parliament took the view that the Framework Agreement on parental leave could be improved by providing incentives for fathers to take parental leave, improving the employment rights of workers who take parental leave, making the leave arrangements more flexible and increasing the duration and pay during such leave.

On 3rd October 2008 the Commission presented two proposals both in relation to maternity leave and situation of self-employed women and assisting spouses. This ‘reconciliation package' was accompanied by a stocktaking report on the provision of childcare and by a policy Communication in which the Commission announced that it would take the necessary action, if the social partners so requested, to give legal force to a new agreement in the form of a proposal for a directive.

Existing provisions on issues relating to the proposal, provides for an individual right to parental leave of at least three months for male and female workers on the birth or adoption of a child. That right should, in principle, be granted on a non-transferable basis; however, many Member States have allowed parental-leave entitlements to be transferred from one parent to the other, which in practice has meant that mothers have taken longer parental leave than fathers.

The Directive also provides for the protection from dismissal of workers taking parental leave, for a right to return to the same/ equivalent job and for maintenance of employment rights during parental leave. It lays down the conditions governing parental leave and the detailed rules for applying it which the Member States and/or the social partners may determine at national level. Lastly, the Directive provides for the right for workers to take time off work for urgent family reasons in the event of sickness or accident that makes the worker's immediate presence indispensable.

Summary

longer leave – each parent would be able to take 4 months off per child (previously 3 months). The extra month could not be transferred from one parent to the other no discrimination

temporary changes to working hours – employees returning from parental leave would have the right to request changes to their work schedules for a limited period. In considering such requests, employers would be obliged to balance the needs of the employee as well as the company.

parents of adopted children / children with disability or long-term illness – governments and employers/unions would be obliged to assess the specific needs of such parents.

 

 

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