The pandemic shone a light on a lot of workplace issues for many office-based employees, and for parents, the switch to working from home was particularly fraught for many. Juggling remote work responsibilities with childcare made for stressed, anxious parents who knew there had to be a better way.
There is: From the start of August this year, all Member States are now required to adopt EU-wide rules to improve work-life balance. It’s called the directive on work-life balance for parents and carers, and it sets out minimum standards for paternity, parental and carers’ leave, which are in addition to existing maternity leave rights.
The directive also establishes the right to request flexible working arrangements. All the provisions in it are designed to help people develop their careers and family life – without having to sacrifice either.
The ultimate aim is to boost participation of women in the labour market and to increase the take-up of family-related leave and flexible working arrangements. As it stands, women’s participation in the EU labour market is almost 11% below that of men’s, and only 68% of women with care responsibilities are in employment, compared to 81% of men with the same responsibilities.