New roadmap published by the European Commission

European Commission has lately published the roadmap "New start to address the challenges of work-life balance faced by working families". This new initiative would replace the 2008 Commission's proposal to revise the Maternity Leave Directive, as announced in the Commission Work Programme 2015. Unfortunately, after evaluation and lack of sufficient feedback, it has been withdrawn on 1 July 2015. That’s why new solution has been presented.

The main reason behind the initiative is to address the low participation of women in the labour market by modernising and adapting the current EU legal and policy framework to today's labour market to allow for parents with children or those with dependent relatives to better balance caring and professional responsibilities. In most countries, female labour market participation remains below its potential due to a lack of possibilities to balance work and family responsibilities, including lack of affordable childcare, rigid working arrangements or absence of incentives for men to take more care responsibilities in their families, which finally puts women in a high risk of poverty. That’s why the initiative aims to focus on improvement issues such as better work-life reconciliation, appropriate protection and strengthened gender equality which will therefore contribute to the priorities of Europe 2020 Strategy.

For parents of large families this is an important step towards justice and fairer treatment. Many mothers are being excluded from labour market because of raising their children, which in case of having a couple of them, means longer gap in their professional life. The reason of this situation is the following:  many companies make it very difficult for women to return to paid positions, even if in many cases they are increasingly well-qualified and wish to work. There is strong evidence that after having children many women drop out of the labour market entirely and those who continue to work often do so in part time although they would like to work full time or they work in jobs below their level of qualification.

Apart from the analysis of the collected data, a public consultation would be an integral part of the Commission's preparation process, including representatives of SMEs and micro-businesses, the European Parliament, Member States and stakeholders and non-governmental organisations active in the field of work-life balance and gender equality.

To give feedback on the initiative, please click here.