Legislative action

The EU provides a catalogue of legislative bills. They set minimum requirements for EU countries in terms of

  • maternity leave.
  • paternity leave.
  • parental leave.
  • carers leave.
  • right to request flexible working arrangements for parents and carers.

EU legislation on family leaves and work-life balance


Non-legislative actions

The European Commission supports EU countries in various ways.


Monitoring the transposition of EU legislation

  • Launching studies, such as the one on enforcement of dismissal protection and unfavourable treatment in EU countries.
  • Organising seminars, such as the one on capacity building activities for equality bodies.


The European Semester

Each year, the European Commission analyses the EU countries’ economic and structural reforms programmes. It provides them with a set of recommendations, which also cover

  • improving the labour market participation of women.
  • addressing the high gender pay gap.
  • ensuring the availability, affordability and/ or quality of (full-time) formal childcare services.
  • reducing tax-benefit disincentives for second earners.


Data collection

The EU improves the collection of data on the take-up of family-related leaves and flexible working arrangements by women and men.


Provide Funding

The Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) funds new pilot schemes for employers taking family leaves and flexible working arrangements.  The EU also provides financial support through the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) programme.

Find the calls for proposals on the EaSI.

Find out about funding opportunities under the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values programme.


Share best practices

The European Commission set up the Mutual Learning Programme to share practices on:

  • gender-balanced uptake of family leaves and flexible working arrangements.
  • initiatives such as labels and certifications for employers with good work-life balance practices.
  • smooth transition between leaves and employment (e.g. provision of breastfeeding facilities at the workplace).
  • crediting of family-related leave periods in the pension system.