Commission wishes to use parental leave as gender equality tool

Commission wishes to use parental leave as gender equality tool
Marianne Thyssen hopes to use parental leave as a vehicle by which to address the gender pay gap across the EU.

The European Commission wishes to instigate a review of the European rules on parental leave to provide all fathers, within the EU, with ten days of paternity leave. Furthermore, it wishes to avoid the situation where parental leave is mainly taken by mothers. The objective: to work towards gender equality in the world of work.

This explanation was provided by the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen. She was speaking to a number of Belgian journalists at the time.

Thyssen was due to set out her proposals this morning (Wednesday) to the College of Commissioners. These would adapt the European mainstay of social rights to the modern world, and to the changes that it is undergoing.

One of the aspects which Marianne Thyssen has worked upon is the work-life balance.

There are several European directives which either exist - or which are in the process of becoming law - relating to parental and maternity leave.

The Commissioner wishes to alter the directive on parental leave to remove the provision which anticipates part of this leave being transferred to the other parent. She explains that it is, in fact, often the mother who takes most of the leave. This contributes to inequalities being seen on the employment market.

Thyssen stresses that, “The gender pay gap arises, not so much because woman are paid less for equal work, but rather because they are more likely to take time off and work part-time, and indeed other related factors.”

This leads, in practical terms, to women earning less than men, thereby drawing pensions upon reaching pension age which are 40% lower than those of men. This thus exposes women to the risk of poverty.

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