Gender Equality : Meps Call for Further Improvements to Parental Leave

Article excerpt

Against the backdrop of the Council's likely adoption, on 30 November, of a directive implementing the EU social partners' latest agreement on parental leave, (see page 4) the European Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM)(1) is calling for "further measures to encourage men to equally share family responsibilities".

At its meeting, on 4 November, the EP committee adopted a motion for a resolution urging EU measures to support gender equality in balancing work and family rights and responsibilities. The vote was 17 in favour, none against and 13 abstentions.

Addressing the meeting, the Commissioner for Equal Opportunities, Vladimir Spidla, recounted the efforts he had made during the past five years to improve gender equality.

In turn, MEPs said that "Only minimum requirements and provisions are currently set out in the framework agreement on parental leave that was signed by social partners in 2005". Although recently updated, they argued that the terms of the agreement were inadequate and that "further measures in support of flexible work methods need to be developed in order to strike the right balance between professional and family life. This balance is an essential aspect of equal opportunities policy". Accordingly, they urged the Council to take "swift" action.

MEPs believe that the framework agreement in its current form is flawed on a number of points. First, there should be "an introduction at EU level of an entitlement to paternity leave" - the leave time should be paid, non-transferable, and the parent should conserve all his rights. …