While waiting for the European Commission to analyse the responses to the public consultation and preparing a proposal for a European Reconciliation Package, the European Parliament has taken a pro-active attitude and initiated a report on “Creating labour market conditions favourable to work-life balance” (see previous post). The report will be voted during the summer, and then, presented and voted in Strasbourg. COFACE welcomes this report and invites MEPs to support this initiative with a positive vote. COFACE welcomes in particular:
Life-cycle approach: reconciliation should not be seen and promoted as a benefit for young parents only, but as a system and a safety net for all family members throughout their lives. Family needs evolve with times and difficult situations may arise from an accident, an illness, an ageing parent needing more support or simply because part of the family is moving in another city or country. Countless are the situations where families need the possibility of arranging their work and care responsibilities or rely on the presence of care services to be able to cope.
Recognizing the role of technology at the workplace but being aware of the risk of a shift from a “culture of presence” to a “culture of availability”: smartphones, laptops and being able to be connected to the internet almost everywhere have increase exponentially the possibilities for telework, flexibility and being able to arrange working commitments around family and care responsibilities. However, the risk of falling into a “culture of availability 24/7” because of this access to technology is very high and we should be very careful in respecting workers’ rights and well-being.
Establishment of targets that would go beyond childcare: while the achievement of the Barcelona targets remains a fundamental objective, in an ageing society we cannot refuse to see the high number of workers (mainly women), aged 45+, that reduce their working hours or drop out completely of the labour market to care for an ageing or dependent family member. This has an impact on their income but even more dramatically on their future pension. Therefore, it is fundamental to introduce targets on care for elderly and other dependents, with monitoring tools within the European Semester.
Legislative proposals for the introduction of a EU paternity leave directive and a EU carers’ leave directive. Legislation in the EU Member States are very different in these two areas but the need for specific tools to ensure families with the possibility of taking care of their newborn and family members with care needs are equal across the EU. COFACE believes that the best way to ensure rights to all families in Europe in this area is by introducing specific legislation with European standards.
Monitoring and enforcement of current legislation as the Parental Leave Directive to ensure transposition and identify areas that could be improved.