COFACE started actively lobbying for a European Year in 2011, and this advocacy campaign was streamlined early 2012 to what it is today, a growing Alliance of organisations, policy makers and individuals, who engage in the common objective, to have 2014 designated as the European Year for Reconciling Work and Family Life.
Today, all families living in Europe have to cope with the increasing conflict between their family and work life. The year would offer an opportunity to focus on how the labour market is organised, what practices and policies exist and which work in enabling a good work life balance, productivity, job security and a decent quality of life. We would be looking at the trends and the demographic challenge for Europe, looking for viable solutions with a broad, multidisciplinary stakeholder base.
COFACE led the campaign on many fronts. We gathered a significant group of civil society organisations and institutions in forming the 2014 European Year Alliance.
We have started the reflection about the actual activities of the year, which will also be carried over and gain importance in the following months in 2013. Here are some of the issues we would like to focus on:
Triggering discussion and debate about existing legislation and other tools in both in the sphere of social policies and labour market policies.
Map and disseminate good practices on family and work life reconciliation in the different EU Member States.
Assess and promote comprehensive family friendly policies and their subsequent implementation.
To address also the issues of family carers, mental health, intergenerational solidarity, time for volunteer activities.
We have created this Blog, as well as we have adopted the Emperor Penguin as the symbol for the campaign, which received very positive feedback. Are you curious why? We have a detailed explanation here.
I think we should also urge future MEPs that one of the priorities for the European Parliament elections – 2015 – should be a strong commitment to the follow-up of the EY Reconciling work and family life 2014 in practice!
Thank you very much for your comment. We are indeed planning a Manifesto for the 2014 elections, and Reconciliation would play a central role definitely.
The problem of Reconciling Work and Family Life should be split to two parts: for women and for men. Is COFACE committed to start looking at both sides ?
Thank you for your comment. We believe that reconciliation should be viewed together by men, women, employers, trade unions, policy and decision makers. We have been working on Men and Families for a long time, and we also have a publication on our website: http://www.coface-eu.org/en/Publications/Men-and-families/
There are several core problems around families and work and the theme/myth of work/life balance – are COFACE looking at reviews of things such as school holidays and timings of school days vs the traditional working days and hours? Where nuclear families do not have free support (i.e. friends/family) at any point in the week, there is a minimum earning in order to afford childcare prior to the UK government’s free nursery allocation at age 3 – to remove a parent (male or female) from the job market for 3 years is detrimental to their ability to reintegrate into the market. What solutions can be offered to aid with the first 3 years? Fundamental attitudes, and the fact that men still dominate company hierarchy mean that it appears to be incredibly difficult to have a flexible working pattern once your career is past a certain point – middle management and higher suffer, thus workers are demotivated and there is a skills drain.
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