Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

News 18/11/2015

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

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.

Pregnant woman with baby working on a computer

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.

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