On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Caritas Europa asks European institutions and governments to break stereotypes regarding parental care responsibilities in families by adopting the proposed EU legislation on work-family life balance.
“After the birth of our first daughter, I decided to take extra months of parental leave after my maternity leave to take care of her. The choice was influenced by the fact that my job situation was less secure and my wage was lower than my husband’s and that paid parental leave was not an option in the organisation he worked in. Then our second child was born and I ended up staying at home for good. I hope that my daughter and her future husband will have more options when they will have children,” explains Lisbeth, 53, Belgium.
The current proposal for an EU Directive on work-family life balance presents a unique opportunity to reduce the gaps between fathers and mothers in terms of employment, pay and care responsibilities, to facilitate the choice of having children and to promote women’s labour market participation. Moreover, research indicates that a better balance between work and family life is an investment that leads to happier workers and increased productivity, decreasing staff turnover and absenteeism at work.
“It is of crucial importance to get this right: women and men have equal rights. That also means equal obligations when it comes to sharing childcare and domestic work in the family. A better work-family life balance benefits not only families by decreasing the gaps between men and women, but also companies and the economy as employee’s are more motivated,” says Shannon Pfohman, Caritas Europa’s Policy and Advocacy Director.
It is now time that the Council and the European Parliament reach an agreement on the proposal for the work-family life balance Directive and ensure a decent remuneration of parental leave for at least four months per parent. By adopting this Directive, they can prove their commitment to move towards a more social Europe, as pledged during the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights in November 2017. Let’s not forget that family is a vital cell of society!