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EU: Agreement reached on Work-Life Balance Directive

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April 24, 2019

A new EU directive on work-life balance establishes rights to paternity, parental and carers' leave and encourages flexible work arrangements.

Employer action code: act

The European Commission (EC), Parliament and European Union (EU) member states have reached provisional agreement on a new directive that would replace the 2010 Parental Leave Directive. The new directive would establish new individual rights to paternity, parental and carers' leave and encourage the development of flexible work arrangements for working parents and carers across the EU/European Economic Area.

Key details

The proposed standards would apply to all employees, including those on fixed-term contracts and part-time staff (pro rata to the percentage of full-time employment), and would include:

  • 10 working days of paternity leave (regardless of marital or family status) paid at the same rate as sick pay or higher (whether paid by the employer or social security)
  • Four months of parental leave, two months of which would be nontransferable, with separate provisions for flexible use and some level of pay replacement benefits for the two nontransferable months (it would be left to the member states to determine the level of parental allowance, parties responsible for payment and specific provisions for flexible leave in transposing the directive)
  • Five days of carers’ leave per year
  • The right for working caregivers and parents with children under age eight to request flexible or reduced working hours or to request flexibility in the place of work for up to one year

It would be up to the member states to determine various aspects of the leave regimes, such as the minimum service requirement for parental leave (subject to a maximum of one year of service), rules for how employees would request flexible work arrangements and employer options for considering such requests.

Employer implications

These new entitlements would exceed existing provisions for such leaves across a number of EU member states. Assuming the directive is approved by the EC and European Parliament, member states would have three years to adapt the directive into local law.