COFACE is launching the European Reconciliation Package !

We are pleased to launch the European Reconciliation Package, the main policy outcome of our 2014 Year of Reconciling Work and Family Life in Europe!

Poster ERP COFACE #wlbpackage

Over the past years we observed an increased preoccupation of European families with the challenges of balancing their family life and work responsibilities. Increased childcare costs, limited places, long commutes, hectic schedules coupled with job-insecurities mean that working parents and carers are finding it increasingly difficult to find long-term solutions that serve the interest off all family members.

We spent the past years cataloguing the problems faced by families, and analyzing and collecting inspiring practices and legal instruments at regional, national and EU level, as well as workplace solutions that work for all – not only working parents with small children.

We are very proud to present today the product of all this work –the European Reconciliation Package, that we hope will inspire many policy makers, employers, legislators in improving the working conditions, legal environment and care solutions for families in Europe.

The package highlights different policies and practices developed at local and national level that can support families in reconciling their work, family and care responsibilities. It reflects on the challenges and opportunities and presents recommendations  of what needs to be done at EU and national level to empower families, and ultimately contributing to gender and pay equality, increased employment, improved childcare and care infrastructure and better well-being overall.

The European Reconciliation Package analyses four main areas: Reconciling for carers, Women’s employment and the potential of reconciliation, Reconciling at the Workplace and Childcare solutions and education. For each area, a legislative and policy background outlines the current situation and some recommendation are putting forward as well as a number of existing practices in Europe.

ERP COFACE

Download a pdf version here

A French, Spanish and Italian version will be available by the end of the month here.

Tweet about the ERP using #wlbpackage @COFACE_EU

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Marking the 25th Anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child #CRC25

LogoCRC25The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted on the 20th November 1989, and today also marks the beginning of our closer cooperation with the different United Nations structures, as we have been recently granted special consultative status (1).

A COFACE delegation is in New York today to join the High-level meeting of the General Assembly on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Has this text, detailing all the different rights of children, contributed to the improvement of the situation of children worldwide? The answer is yes, even if the picture is patchy, and especially in certain regions of the world children are still being deprived of basic rights, exploited, trafficked and abused. The event will take stock of the progress made, look at the challenges that still lie ahead, and also showcase a number of innovative solutions for safeguarding the rights of people under 18.

Thanks to this text adopted in 1989, governments have incorporated children’s rights and their needs in a number of legislative texts, and globally there has been a reduction of child mortality, child marriages, and more children are attending school, than ever before.

“As with any legal instrument, the ratification is just the beginning!” sais COFACE’s President Annemie Drieskens. “With the cuts to social spending, child poverty is on the increase, many families are in a very vulnerable situation, unable to feed, clothe and school their children properly. Governments and the EU institutions need to be much more serious about the enforcement of the UN CRC articles, as well as the implementation of the European Commission recommendation on Investing in children. This is why COFACE is in New York today, to build bridges with the UN Institutions and governments to see how to better empower families and improve policies.”

The event will be broadcast live. Links to follow it online
http://webtv.un.org
www.unicef.org/crc/index_73962.html

(1) The special consultative status at the United Nations will enable COFACE to actively get engaged with the work of ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) and its subsidiary bodies, as well as with the UN Secretariat, programmes, funds and agencies in a number of ways. More information: www.coface-eu.org/en/News/Consultative-Status-UN

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Follow the debate live next Tuesday!

Follow the conference “A sustainable care system for Europe in the context of reconciling work and family life” next Tuesday on Storify from 9:30-5 pm CET. To take part in the debate, use the hashtag #sustainablecarewlb

storify

We will discuss and present policies and practices developed at local and national level that can support families in reconciling their work and care responsibilities and reflect on the sustainability of the current growing trends of care.

We hope to see you on-line!

_sustainablecarewlb_sm_low

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Work-life balance conference in Brno

BrnoWe congratulate the Office of the Public Defender of Rights of the Czech Republic for organising a highly relevant and interesting conference in Brno on the issue of Work-Life Balance. The COFACE director, Agnes Uhereczky, was invited by the Czech Obmudswoman Ms. Anna Sabatova to present the activities of COFACE, as well as some of the preliminary lessons learnt from our 2014 campaign on Reconciling Work and Family Life in Europe.

The conference brought together a great pool of experts from different parts of Europe. A number of European Equality bodies were also present, and showcased very interesting campaigns to promote gender equality in the leaves systems, labour laws and other public policies in the different member States, as well as promoting the issue of work-life balance to employers and the general public. One of the great examples presented was the Portuguese campaign by CITE, the Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment Time to Have Time.

Jean-Marie Jungblut of Eurofound presented the research project DEMOCARE, which looks at the issue of reconciling Work and Care for elderly relatives. Maurizio Mosca of EIGE gave a brief overview of the Peer review on best practices for work-life balance, in which also COFACE was involved through the participation of COFACE Policy officer Paola Panzeri.

Perhaps the most interesting discussions were between employers/companies and civil society and the government representatives about the legislative framework, in particular the labour code, which is not at all up-to date with the new world of work. For instance, if an employer wishes to offer the possibility for working from home, the employer is responsible for the health and safety of the employee in their home, and is liable in the case of any accident. This is probably the case for the labour codes in many countries, and it would interesting to do a European sweep of the legislative framework and see how some countries managed to solve this issue. More about this conference

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Family and Work: challenges for the balance

NUST 2014 COFACE was invited to participate in the seminar “Family and Work: challenges for the balance”, organised by the NUST Network (New Social Uses of Time) created by the city of Barcelona.

The NUST network gathers more than seventy companies that have pledged to encourage a better management of time, and help reconciling work, family and personal schedules, encouraging increased levels of productivity and a climate of confidence that benefits both the companies and their employees, contributing, that way, to improve the overall quality of life of the city’s citizens.

Annemie Drieskens, President of COFACE was invited to offer an overview of the status and trends of policies for reconciling work and family life in Europe. She explained the key elements of the European Reconciliation Package that COFACE is developing in collaboration with employers, trade unions and a wide Alliance of social NGOs and underlining the principles of “gender equality, non-discrimination, solidarity and social inclusion”.

Annemie Drieskens underlined that too many families in Europe struggle to find a good work life balance. Employers have a crucial role in making work life balance a reality. She reflected that work-life balance is not a luxury problem and does contribute to the company’s core business and underlined the need to “foster dialogue in companies in order to better understand the needs of workers and improve their balance between work and family life.” COFACE President said that “supportive companies have to provide more flexibility and autonomy to workers so they can find the best response to the specific needs of their family” to be healthier and more productive.

The event -organised as part of the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family- also featured a panel of business experiences in the field of reconciliation of work, family and personal life moderated by the Director of Program Time and Quality of Life.

Read more (in Spanish)  |  Storify |  Twitter @XarxaNust

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MEPs can improve the lives of working parents, carers and all families in Europe // Towards a new Family policies Intergroup

Last year, 388 MEPs expressed their support to put the issue of reconciling work and family life higher on the European Agenda (by signing the Written Declaration 32/2012). This new legislative period of the European Parliament is a key opportunity to do so.

Earlier this year we launched the publication #FamiliesVOTE2014 in which we asked to several European political groups whether they are in favor of the creation of a new Family policies Intergroup.

Today we are asking MEPs to join the Family policies Intergroup and to contribute to improve policies that will have an effect on the lives of millions of working parents, carers and all the different forms of families in the EU. If you wish to read more about the proposed work-programme of the Intergroup, please go here to read the Manifesto of the Family Policies Intergroup – Reinforcing Family as a Basic Component of Society and Reconciling Work and Family.

This Intergroup proposal has been put forward by: Ildikó GÁLL-PELCZ (EPP, HU) Vice President of the European Parliament; Jutta STEINRUCK (S&D, DE); Arne GERICKE (ECR, DE); Marian HARKIN (ALDE, IE) and Klaus BUCHNER (Greens, DE).

We will keep you informed. Watch this space!

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Every employer can do something to positively impact on the wellbeing of their employee carers and parents | #EEFWLB

Employers’ Forum for Work Life Balance Final Report, 8-9 September, Helsinki.

Positive impact Report #EEFWLB HelsinkiWorking conditions and working time arrangements are a primary preoccupation for the majority of families, as well as the place of work and commuting have a great impact on family life. The central point for departure of our conference was that employers have a great responsibility in this matter, and even if not everybody can do everything, every employer can do something to positively impact on the wellbeing of their employee carers and parents.
There are a number of factors that define the work-life balance landscape in every country, and many of the topics that emerged as important are cross-cutting. The conference and the speakers tried to address a great number of these, among which:

In the moment of transition to parenthood LEAVES play a crucial role, and often this is the time when things go wrong in terms of the relationship with work, and the way organisations/employers handle leaves has a huge impact on the continuity of the career and working life. The issue of fathers’ leave is of course a very interesting Europe-wide issue, in the particularly gendered situation of parenting and childcare. One of the many myths is that economic factors determine fathers’ taking or losing out on their right to leave, yet research shows, that it is rather gender equality within the family. Unfortunately workplaces that have solid leave policies for mothers and fathers are still few and far between. It is mainly in the industries which require highly skilled and specialised employees that have made the link between good leave policies and talent retention.

The issue of WORKING TIME was addressed by most of the speakers, as we are generally still stuck in a post-industrialist work arrangement, in which employees and workers need to be seen and supervised during specific hours as a proof of doing the job they are supposed to. There are great variations across Europe around the prevalence of part-time work as in some countries it is very rare and in some other countries almost the norm. Non-standard working hours can also offer opportunities for reconciling work and family life, but mostly for the higher socio-economic classes of society, and those with the highest skills.

The issue of GENDER EQUALITY cannot be uncoupled from the discussion on work-life balance. As women are a majority in the workforce, they are changing the rules of the previously male dominated labour market. Yet, as with any social and culture change, policies carry a stigma if they seem to be only addressed to a certain part of the population, and this way flexible or reduced working hours are not seen as also being for men.

Even though the conference focused specifically on what employers can do to make reconciliation easier, the discussion around the accessibility of CHILDCARE and other services came up regularly. Childcare provision seems to be seen as a measure of supporting working mothers, yet the lack of such services can also seriously compromise the career and work-trajectories of older women, who are grandparents and need to reduce working time or leave the labour market to help out with grandchildren. The two systems of leaves and childcare are interconnected, and have a profound effect on women’s working lives, especially those with unpredictable and irregular working hours, and especially single mums and those far away from other family support.

The LEADERSHIP of the organisation has a lot of responsibility in shaping a certain organisational culture, and it is often this culture that imposes norms and behaviour on its managers and workers. Unfortunately there are still many workplaces that penalise people who prioritise their family, or as a matter of fact other outside interests. The culture of the organisation is as difficult to change as the policy and legislative framework, and is especially at risk of not being sustainable due to change of leadership.

An overall message emerging from the conference was about the need to extend work-life balance policies beyond the reach of only the most highly educated, or those with top managerial jobs, supported with a lot of IT, that enables remote working. Combining or integrating work and family life is an absolute necessity if we want to affront the current demographic challenges. Unless we tackle the issue of working time, childcare and other care services and leaves systems, the existing inequalities will only grow.

Read the Full Report of the Employers’ Forum for Work Life Balance

More about this event

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