Maternity, paternity and parental leave in the EU

06-03-2017

The EU has been working on reforming family leave policies in Member States since the 1980s. Its efforts resulted in two currently valid directives: the 1992 Maternity Leave Directive and the 2010 Parental Leave Directive. Even though EU Member States’ transposition of the current directives has been mostly satisfactory technically, in 2015 the Commission announced a package on work-life balance which would replace the current legislation. The rationale for the new package is increasing female labour participation, bringing gender balance to care activities now predominantly performed by women, and improving negative demographic trends. The current legislative framework has been evaluated as inadequate to deal with these challenges. While the content of the Commission proposal is not yet fully known, an analysis of the current situation may shed light on the direction of change, as well as the obstacles that the new proposal may face. Even though Member States have transposed the current directives, they have also been given much freedom in deciding on elements which may be crucial in achieving the aims of the new Commission proposal. Why Member States decided to implement certain elements over others depends on their cultural, social and economic situations, which, according to experts, play a significant role in deciding policies of that type and may also influence the new proposal.

The EU has been working on reforming family leave policies in Member States since the 1980s. Its efforts resulted in two currently valid directives: the 1992 Maternity Leave Directive and the 2010 Parental Leave Directive. Even though EU Member States’ transposition of the current directives has been mostly satisfactory technically, in 2015 the Commission announced a package on work-life balance which would replace the current legislation. The rationale for the new package is increasing female labour participation, bringing gender balance to care activities now predominantly performed by women, and improving negative demographic trends. The current legislative framework has been evaluated as inadequate to deal with these challenges. While the content of the Commission proposal is not yet fully known, an analysis of the current situation may shed light on the direction of change, as well as the obstacles that the new proposal may face. Even though Member States have transposed the current directives, they have also been given much freedom in deciding on elements which may be crucial in achieving the aims of the new Commission proposal. Why Member States decided to implement certain elements over others depends on their cultural, social and economic situations, which, according to experts, play a significant role in deciding policies of that type and may also influence the new proposal.