Employment ministers have adopted a revised EU directive to extend minimum parental leave to four months per parent.
The new legislation follows an agreement among European social partners to extend parental leave in an effort to improve work-life balance and encourage fathers to take leave after the birth of a child.
A joint agreement on family leave was signed last year by European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), BusinessEurope, the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public Services (CEEP) and the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME).
The new rules will now be applicable to all employees in all Member States and to all types of contract, as “an important means of reconciling professional and family responsibilities and promoting equal opportunities and treatment between men and women”.
Employers are encouraged to provide parental leave which cannot be transferred between partners, so as to “encourage a more equal take-up of leave by both parents”.
It is also set out clearly in the new directive that the right to this extended parental leave applies equally to people working on a fixed contract, part-time or in temporary work.
The WHO has said that parental leave is an important part of improving overall health and well-being.
“Rebalancing work and private life requires government policy and legislative support that provides parents the right to time to look after children,” according to a WHO report on the social determinants of health.
“These include the provision of quality childcare facilities, policies on flexible working hours and parental leave for men and women,” the report adds.
The full EU directive on parental leave can be accessed here.
The WHO report on social determinants of health is available from the WHO website.
[Image: “Father and Son” by Leonard John Matthews, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license]