European Commission sets up a road-map for better reconciliation of work and family life

The European Commission has published a document outlining how it wants to tackle the difficult balancing act of many workers between work and family life. The roadmap argues for legislative and non-legislative developments in this area and includes not only actions for fathers and mothers, but also for workers who care for dependent family members.

Work-Family life reconciliation as a way to boost growth

The Commission argues that action on the reconciliation of work and family life is needed, as women are still bearing the greatest part of care work in families and female employment rates are much lower than men’s across the European Union, with great differences between member states. The Commission believes that harmonisation in this area will make available the untapped potential of female workers and thus contribute to growth and employment, and that member states will benefit from a coordinated action. The Commission also argues that improved employment rates of women will have a positive influence to decrease the number of women at risk of poverty and the gender pension gap, currently standing at almost 40%.

Legislative and non-legislative measures

The Commission outlines a number of legislative measures that it will propose in the near future. They consist of promoting take-up of parental leave by fathers, review the framework of parental and maternity leave, promote flexible working patterns taking into account new technologies and to stronger enforce the equal treatment directive in employment. Non-legislative measures include peer reviews in the council using benchmarks, regular monitoring and public reporting as part of the European Semester, the use of financing of the European Social Fund and a targeted awareness raising campaign. All measures include the involvement of social partners as well.

AGE Platform Europe has called several times for a carer’s leave directive and for policies promoting the reconciliation of work with family life for both parents and carers. AGE welcomes this proposed roadmap and the references to carers in several initiatives. AGE highlights however that flexible working patterns must not be at the detriment of female and older workers, nor lead to the precarisation of work. Also, while employee-driven flexibility in working time and patterns is needed, investments into accessible, affordable quality care infrastructure is needed to allow families to leave their relatives in need of care in good hands while they are working.

AGE stays available as a partner for the upcoming consultations on the agenda and will continue to raise awareness on the issue.

Further information:

AGE Platform Europe, AGE responds to Commission public consultation on a possible carers’ leave directive

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