Fathers don't take nearly as much parental leave as mothers do, which can lead to women having to sacrifice their career prospects in order to look after their children. EU rules are meant to help with this, but results have proved mixed. Belgian Socialist MEP Maria Arena has written a report with suggestions on how to improve the situation. MEPs debate the report on 12 May and vote on it later that day. Watch our video interview with her to find out why she thinks improvements are needed.
In the EU employees have the right to parental leave when a child is born or adopted. However, it is up to each member state to decide on access to this leave, including how much financial coverage is provided. In our video interview, Arena said the isue of payment for parental leave was key to ensuring men take leave: "Parental leave must be paid, for there to be an equitable work-life division between men and women, ending discrimination at work for women."
She added that some member states consider paying for leave a cost rather than an investment: "Therefore we want to convince these states that providing leave, even more so parental leave, in fact creates a bigger workforce, a more qualified workforce and thus more advantages for companies too."