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New start for working parents and caregivers: Commission launches public consultation on work-life balance

18/11/2015 Pregnant woman with baby working on a computer

The European Commission has today launched a public consultation on how to improve work-life balance and reduce obstacles to women's participation in the labour market, thereby contributing to the employment headline target of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

This consultation follows the withdrawal of the Commission's 2008 proposal to amend the 1992 Maternity Leave Directive. The Commission committed to replacing that proposal with a 'new start' initiative in its Work Programme for 2016. It will seek

  • to address the low participation of women in the labour market by improving the current EU legal and policy framework,
  • to enable a better balance between caring and professional responsibilities for working parents and people with dependent relatives,
  • to allow for a greater sharing of caring responsibilities between women and men,
  • to strengthen gender equality.

A consultation with the EU social partners on possible improvements to EU legislation on work-life balance was launched on 11 November.

The consultation document gives an overview of the main challenges of work-life balance for parents and people with caring responsibilities and takes stock of EU-level measures already in place. In parallel to the social partner consultation on legislative measures, the consultation launched today invites the public to provide feedback on the challenges and a possible range of EU-level policy responses.

Such measures could include

  • policy guidance,
  • exchanges of good practice between Member States and stakeholders,
  • enhanced monitoring in the European Semester,
  • strengthened EU-level financial support.
The online consultation will be open until 17 February 2016.