The Maternity Leave Directive is in danger of being withdrawn from the European Parliament as part of its bureaucracy reduction plan (REFIT). The REFIT (Regulatory Fitness and Performance: Results and Next Steps) plan uses the justification to reduce "the regulatory burdens" and "make administrative processes easier" to cut down social right legislations. For seven years now the European Parliament and the European Council have not reached a decision on the Maternity Leave Directive. The revised Directive was presented by the European Commission in 2008 and since then the Council and the Parliament have not agreed on the proposal. Even the attempts from the Parliament to form a Working Group together with the Council are not promising. In December 2014 the European Commission threatened to withdraw the Directive and to replace it with a "modern version".

ETUC (European Trade Union Confederation) and ETUCE fear that the new version would not be legally binding and undermine women's rights during and after pregnancy. They demand that the Council and the Parliament agree to the version from 2008, which sets high and legally binding minimum standards for maternity leave. Therefore ETUCE calls to all Member Organisations to distribute the letter template from ETUC and send it completed to national authorities and Members of the European Parliament. The template appeals especially to governments of the member states, who are blocking the Directive through the European Council – these states, such as Germany, France, Sweden, the UK, Malta, Hungary, Denmark, the Netherlands and Slovakia, refuse to set minimum standards for a better protection of maternity leave and to set an example of solidarity with women workers in countries where further support is needed to implement minimum standards for maternity leave.

The new Directive is based on international standards of the ILO (International Labour Organisation), demands 18 weeks of maternity leave and concerns many other important topics of equal opportunities – the remaining gender pay gap, equal access to the labour market, demographic changes and health and safety of children. But most important it ensures full payment during maternity leave and protects women against discrimination at the workplace. Having children still implies an economic risk for many women, the new Directive would support them a least during a short period of 18 weeks and help them to return to work after their pregnancy. The member states cannot longer refuse to better protect women and their children during and after pregnancy, ETUCE invites all Member Organisations to support the ETUC campaign!

To download the letter, click here (Please contact us, to get word version)

To see more information, click here.