On 4 April 2019, an overwhelming 490 MEPs voted in favour of the Directive on Work-Life Balance for Parents and Carers in the European Parliament, aimed at facilitating the reconciliation of personal and professional lives of working parents and carers across the European Union.

 

Four main rights have been enshrined in this Directive:

 

 

  • fathers, or equivalent second parents, will be entitled to 10 days of paternity leave around the birth of a child;
  • carers will be granted 5 days leave to look after dependent family members;
  • employers will be obliged to respond and provide justification to parents’ and carers’ requests for flexible working arrangements;
  • each parent will be entitled to four months’ parental leave, which includes two months’ non-transferable leave.

Welcoming this Directive that includes non-transferable parental leave, ETUCE cautions about the introduction of flexible working arrangements recalling that if not well-implemented, part-time work can lead to precarious employment conditions, e.g. fewer career and training opportunities, lower pay and pensions, and exacerbate the gender pay and pension gap.

With a view to promoting teachers’ well-being, addressing workload issues and work-related stress, it is important to ensure that time spent on additional administrative tasks is recognised as part of official working time in teachers’ contracts. Other issues concern continuous professional development which should take place during working hours and guidelines regarding contact hours and the right to disconnect.

Work-life balance is a key issue for ETUCE and its member organisations and among the topics discussed within the Empowering education trade unions to address gender equality in the teaching profession through social dialogue project. European Director, Susan Flocken stated: “To further improve work-life balance for teachers at all levels of the education system, ETUCE member organisations call for the right to disconnect to be included in collective agreements, affordable and accessible public early childhood education and elderly care, the negotiation of contracts which include realistic workload expectations for teachers, and time models which cater for both male and female teachers at different stages of their lives”.

The Final Conference of this project is to be held in Bucharest on 16-17 September 2019, where an online database of best practices, including ways to promote work-life balance within the teaching profession, is to be launched.