Reconciling family and career
Equal career opportunities require working conditions which make it possible to reconcile family and career. For an international organisation this calls for particular employer responsibility, because it is often difficult for employees to fall back on childcare facilities or on family ties in the country of employment, in the same way as they can in their country of origin. Therefore the EU institutions have a dual responsibility to their staff: they must be both an employer and a 'substitute state', i.e. they must offer a specific social infrastructure providing kindergartens, health insurance schools, etc. to contribute to an effective personnel policy.
To reconcile family and career, a series of measures is adopted comprising flexible working, parental leave, a solid infrastructure of childcare and schooling.
The present flexitime arrangements are seen as too complicated, which is why they are hardly used. It is therefore planned to introduce new flexitime arrangements, which are easy to operate, are accessible without too much forward planning, and provide systematic and reliable recording of work time.
Maternity leave is extended from 16 to 20 weeks. In the case of adoption, the father or mother have 20 weeks' leave. Paternity leave is extended from two to 10 days. Special leave of up to five days is introduced for officials looking after a seriously ill child up to the age of 12. More information. Also the social infrastructure has been improved (kindergarten, schools).
In the Commission's White Paper presented early in 2000, gender mainstreaming is defined as the systematic consideration of gender issues in all policies and actions. Gender mainstreaming is incorporated into the Staff Regulations to meet the objective of gender equality laid down in the Amsterdam Treaty. More information.
Many Member States now give legal recognition to other forms of partnership outside traditional marriage, in particular homosexual partnerships. In the new Staff Regulations, unmarried officials living in a partnership legally recognised by a Member State, but who are not allowed to marry (basically homosexual couples), will be treated like married officials.