by the EESC's Workers Group
On 24 January the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Member States reached an agreement on the work-life balance directive. "This agreement is a concrete step towards making the lives of European working parents and carers easier," said Gaby Bischoff, president of the Workers' Group at the EESC.
The Workers' Group led the discussions on strengthening the rights of workers with caring responsibilities within the EESC with its opinion on the work-life balance of working parents and caregivers, seeing as trade unions had been pushing for this legislative initiative as an integral part of the European Social Pillar to bring social progress to European citizens.
"We welcome the agreement as it will achieve progress by introducing 10 days' paternity leave around the time of birth. This leave is paid at the same level as sick leave for fathers or equivalent second partners, thus achieving the proposal's goal of increasing fathers'/partners' involvement. Mothers and fathers are entitled to parental leave, paid at an 'adequate' level. This was a key campaigning issue for trade unions in order to assist parents in achieving a better work-life balance. In addition, people caring for a sick relative will be able to take five days' carer's leave", said Gaby Bischoff.
"Work-life balance policies are tools that will enable women and men to make choices starting from a level playing field," said Erika Koller, the rapporteur for the opinion. "This agreement is not a silver bullet that will solve everything, but it is certainly a step in the right direction." (ppr)