EU: Parliament and Council agree on measures to reconcile career and private life

  • Ten working days paternity leave paid at not less than the level of sick pay
  • Two months of non-transferable paid parental leave
  • Five days of annual carers’ leave
  • Flexible working patterns, including remote working

Employment Committee negotiators struck a deal with EU ministers today on paternity leave and non-transferable parental leave to boost women’s chances in the labour market.

Paternity, parental and carer’s leave

They also added two months of non-transferable and paid parental leave. This leave should be an individual right, creating the appropriate conditions for a more balanced distribution of caring responsibilities. Negotiators agreed that member states would set an adequate level of payment or allowance for the minimum non-transferable period of parental leave, taking into account that the take-up of parental leave often results in a loss of income for the family and a higher-paid family member (who is often a man) should be able to make use of this right.

The agreement sets minimum requirements for member states, in a bid to boost women’s representation in the workplace and strengthen the role of a father or an equivalent second parent in the family. This would benefit children and family life, whilst reflecting societal changes more accurately, and promoting gender equality.

Negotiators agreed to introduce the right to at least 10 working days of paid paternity leave for fathers and equivalent second parents (where a second parent is recognised by national law) around the time of birth or adoption and paid at not less than the level of sick pay.

The level of payment should allow for decent living standards, thus encouraging both parents to take leave.

To provide flexibility for member states with generous parental leave systems, a clause has been added, upon the request of EU ministers, by which member states guarantee that a worker will receive a payment or allowance of at least 65% of their net wage, for at least 6 months of parental leave for each parent. Member states may decide to maintain such a system.

Finally, they agreed on 5 days per year of carer’s leave for workers providing personal care to a relative or a person living in the same household and with a serious medical condition or age-related impairment.

Flexible working

Working parents and carers would be able to request an adjustment to their working patterns including, where feasible, through remote working or flexible schedules. When considering flexible working requests, employers may take into account not only their own resources and operational capacity, but also the specific needs of a parent of children with a disability and long-term illness and those of single parents.

Next steps

This provisional agreement now has to be formally adopted by both the European Parliament and the Council.


To address the challenges that working parents and carers face in reconciling work and family responsibilities, the European Commission proposed the ‘Work-life balance’ Initiative in April 2017. This initiative is a key deliverable of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The Directive on work-life balance sets a number of new or higher standards for parental, paternity and carer’s leave, and the right to request flexible working arrangements. It takes account of the needs of small and medium-sized companies and makes sure that they are not disproportionately affected.

The new Directive is complemented with policy and funding measures, supporting EU countries in enforcing existing dismissal protection legislation, developing formal care services and addressing economic disincentives for second earners to work.

Related documents

Work-Life Balance factsheet – EU (2019) PDF

Related links

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