On 24 January 2019, the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission involved in the Trialogue negotiations on the work-life balance Directive came to an agreement.

This compromise, which has yet to be formally adopted by Council and Parliament in plenary to become permanent, introduces the principle of two months’ pay for parental leave, as well as a minimum of 10 days’ paid paternity leave and 5 days’ leave per year (unpaid) for carers. In addition, the project as it emerged from the negotiations would improve the possibilities of flexible working time arrangements.

Harald Wiedenhofer, EFFAT General Secretary, commenting on the agreement reached in trialogue, said:

“The provisional text of the new Directive on work-life balance represents a positive step in the right direction. European workers need more time to take care of their kids and their close relatives. Today, it is not easy balancing work and home, but how well we are able to manage this can make a significant difference for the future of our society. At the same time, after the unacceptable withdrawal of the maternity leave Directive, EFFAT considers not to strengthen the right to maternity leave in this new Directive as a missed opportunity”.

The provisional text introduces the following minimal provisions:

  •  It strengthens the existing right to 4 months of parental leave (already existing), by making 2 months non-transferable (one month today) between parents, and introducing compensation for these 2 months at an ‘adequate’  level to be determined by the Member States.
  •  In order to be eligible, parents must have already worked in the company for a period of a year and their child has to be under the age of 12 years (8 today). In terms of the length of time during which the parent on leave can be remunerated, the text intends for an evolving approach so that remuneration will initially be paid for a month and a half, and five years after the Directive comes into force this period will rise to two months remuneration.
  • A minimum of 10 days paternity leave (for the father and the second parent as far as the status exists in the national law). The latter will be remunerated at the rate set for maternity leave according to directive 92/85 on the proviso that the co-parent has already worked within the company for a period of six months. The text also includes derogation for EU Member States that already operate within a generous parental leave system such as Germany. This derogation, called a ‘bridging clause’ allows Member States to maintain their own systems once they guarantee ‘adequate payment or compensation of at least 65% of a worker’s net salary, potentially subject to a ceiling level, and for at least a period of 6 months parental leave for each parent.’
  • Five days carer leave for workers to take care of close relatives’ serious illness or dependence. Regrettably, this provision does not mention any remuneration level at all.
  • Working parents and carers would be able to request an adjustment to their working patterns including, where feasible, through remote working or flexible schedules. When considering flexible working requests, employers may take into account not only their own resources and operational capacity, but also the specific needs of a parent of children with a disability and long-term illness and those of single parents.

The European Commission press release in all languages can be found here: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-19-424_en.htm

Once this provisional agreement is formally adopted by Council and EP, the new rules will then apply three years after the Directive officially comes into force.

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