26th April 2017

EC presents initiatives on work-life balance, information of workers, working times

In addition to proposing the European Pillar of Social Rights, the European Commission also puts forward a number of legislative and non-legislative initiatives related to work-life balance, the information of workers, access to social protection and working time.

The proposal on work-life balance sets a number of new or higher minimum standards for parental, paternity and carer's leave. It includes the new right for fathers to take at least 10 working days off around the birth of a child. The proposal also envisages that the existing right to four months' parental leave can be taken for children up to 12 years of age, compared to just a non-binding guideline on the age of 8 years today. Parental leave also becomes an individual right for mothers and fathers without a transfer of the four months to the other parent, a strong incentive for men to also make use of this possibility. For the first time a carer's leave of five days per year will be introduced, in case of sickness of a direct relative. All of these family related leave arrangements will be compensated at least at the level of sick pay. The proposal will also give parents of children up to 12 years old and carers the right to request flexible working arrangements, like reduced or flexible working hours or flexibility on the place of work. It takes account of the needs of small and medium-sized undertakings and seeks to make sure that they are not disproportionately affected.

The proposed measures are intended in particular to increase possibilities for men to take up parental and caring responsibilities. This will benefit children and help increase women's participation in the labour market, thereby reducing the difference between men and women in employment which stood in 2015 still at 11.6%p and increases even to 30% when families have young children under the age of 6. This is one of the elements leading to the gender pay (16.3%) and pension gap (40%). Member States may entrust social partners with the implementation of this Directive as long as the results sought under this directive are guaranteed.

In addition to this legislative proposal, the Commission also launches today two social partner consultations, reflecting the importance of the contribution of social partners in delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights and in line with their role under the Treaties. The first consultation of the social partners concerns modernising the rules on labour contracts. The Written Statement Directive (91/533/EEC) gives employees starting a new job the right to be notified in writing of the essential aspects of their employment relationship. This right remains highly relevant, but may have to be adjusted in the light of new realities and practices on the labour markets to ensure fair working conditions also in a changing world of work. Therefore the Commission wishes to open a debate on minimum safeguards every worker, including those working in non-standard employment, would deserve. The Commission intends to propose a revision of this directive by the end of the year.

The Commission is also starting a consultation of social partners on access to social protection, to define possible new rules in this area. Rights and obligations associated to social protection have been developed over time primarily for workers employed on standard contracts, whereas this has been insufficiently developed for people in self-employment and non-standard employment. Today's more flexible working arrangements provide new job opportunities especially for the young but can potentially give rise to new precariousness and inequalities. The Commission wants to close the gaps and explore ways to ensure that everyone who works has access to social protection coverage and employment services on the basis of their contributions.

Finally, the Commission adopted today a clarification of the Working Time Directive, providing guidance on how to interpret various aspects of this directive in line with a growing body of case law. This will help Member States implement the acquis correctly and avoid further infringements.

Read full press release. Details in Czech.

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic