Social rights and the EU Work-life balance directive

Publication date
Caroline de la Porte, Zhen Im, Brigitte Pircher, Dorota Szelewa, Nuria Ramos, Jesús R. Mercader Uguina, Francisco Javier Gómez Abelleira, Ana Belén Muñoz Ruiz, Pablo Gimeno Díaz de Atauri
European Commission

A new research has been published, examining the potential within the EU Work-life Balance Directive (WLBD). Strengthening European social rights via the work-life balance directive? is a working paper produced as part of the EuSocialCit project, funded through the European Commission's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program.

The new EU Work-life Balance Directive was created with the dual aim of increasing fathers' participation in childcare and mothers' ability to maintain and strengthen their connection to the labor market through two main tools: paternity leave (10 days, payable at the level of sick pay), and earmarked parental leave (2 months, with a high level of compensation).

The working paper analyzed how these two provisions are applied in different EU States by focusing on normative and instrumental resources, particularly on the accessibility of online application procedures and the effectiveness of communication campaigns.

The analysis shows that countries where no paid parental leave was in place before the WLBD came into force (such as Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland) are among those planning to guarantee higher economic compensation. In contrast, countries such as Spain and Germany, where paternity leave policies were already in place, are not going to make substantial changes from a normative perspective. 

As for the practical tools put in place, the research reveals that there are significant differences between states: in Poland, for example, the government is not carrying out adequate communication campaigns to incentivize parental leave among fathers, thus attempting to keep the status quo unchanged and ensuring that it continues to be predominantly requested by mothers.

All in all, in order to understand the dynamics of the potential use of social rights, the research stresses the importance of taking into consideration normative as well as instrumental aspects, together with the need to have digital information and procedures as accessible as possible, and carry out effective communication aimed at making citizens aware of their rights.

Read the full working paper