Parents in 7 countries to get new rights to paid leave

Parents in seven EU member states will begin benefiting from new rights to paid leave if national governments properly implement the work-life balance directive, a new ETUC analysis shows.

Fathers in Italy, Croatia and Slovakia are set to receive paid paternity leave around the birth of a child for the first time ever under the directive adopted by the European Council in June.

The legislation fought for by the ETUC will also at least double the length of paid paternity leave in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Portugal and Romania.

However, when these rights come into force and how much money parents will receive now depends on national governments.

ETUC Deputy General Secretary Esther Lynch said:

“National governments have no excuse to waste any time in putting in place these new rights for parents and should go beyond the minimum levels set down by the directive to ensure these rights are used and don’t simply exist on paper. Real work-life balance will be good for families and good for the economy.”

The new directive states that fathers should be able to take at least 10 working days of paternity leave compensated at least at the level of sick pay. But only half of EU member states offer sick pay   that is equivalent to two thirds of normal pay.

If paternity leave is paid at the minimum level, evidence shows many fathers will simply not be able to take advantage of their rights.  

The directive also delivers:

  • Parental leave: An individual right to 4 months of parental leave, from which 2 months are non-transferable between the parents and are paid.
  • Carers’ leave: A new concept at EU level for workers caring for relatives in need of care or support due to serious medical reasons. Carers will be able to take 5 working days per year.
  • Flexible working arrangements: the right for parents to request these arrangements has been extended to include working carers.

The ETUC’s analysis of which countries are set to benefit from the work-life balance directive are contained in a new toolkit to help its affiliates lobby for full implementation of the direct at national level.

The deadline for member states to put the directive into effect is June 2022, but the ETUC will work with its affiliates to push for a faster adoption of the rights and for governments to go beyond the minimum standards laid down.

The full work-life balance toolkit can be found here: