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12-05-2016

Parental leave: MEPs call for common rules to be better enforced

The EU’s common rules on minimum parental leave should be better enforced EU-wide, says Parliament in a resolution voted on Thursday. Member states should guarantee working parents the right to take four months off, unpaid, regardless of where and how they are employed, and fathers in particular should be encouraged to apply for it, says the text.

The text points out that there are big differences in parental leave rules around the EU, and especially on who is entitled to take it. Public sector employees often have more protection than those in private businesses, and in some member states workers on fixed-term or zero-hour contracts are not always included.

The resolution, drafted by Maria Arena (S&D, BE) was passed by 491 votes to 101, with 38 abstentions.

Parliament urges the EU Commission to monitor the implementation of the rules carefully and stresses that everyone, without regard to gender, should be guaranteed the right to parental leave without discrimination, regardless of the employment sector or the type of contract under which working fathers and mothers are employed.

Equality for parents

MEPs ask member states to guarantee that parental leave is equally accessible for all and do more to encourage fathers to take it. Their share is rising but remains low - only 10% of fathers take at least one day of parental leave, while 97% of mothers use the parental leave that is available for both parents.

Recommendations

MEPs call on the Commission and the social partners to extend the minimum duration of unpaid parental leave from 4 to at least 6 months and advocate introducing EU rules on a minimum two-week paternity leave

Finally, Parliament looks forward to detailed rules for granting parental leave to parents of children with a disability or serious or long-term incapacitating illness.

Background

In 1995 EU cross-industry social partner organisations reached a framework agreement on parental leave which was given legal effect by a Council Directive a year later. The agreement was completely revised in 2009 and new directive approved in 2010. The rules stipulate that all employees have a right to at least four months of unpaid parental leave, of which one month should be non-transferable. However, defining detailed rules and conditions for their application remains a matter for member states and social partners.

Adopted text (2015/2097(INI) will soon be available here (12.05.2016) Video recording of debate (click on 12.05.2016) EbS+Audiovisual material for mediaEP Research: Parental Leave Directive: Towards a revision? (May, 2016 EPRS: Parental leave (May, 2016 , Plenary podcast)