Following months of negotiations, this week the European social partners signed the revised version of the Framework Agreement on Parental Leave at an official ceremony. The result of the revised Directive is an increase of the parental leave, more flexibility after returning from parental leave and a broadened modern interpretation of the term family.
Duration of parental leave will be increased to 4 months
One of the core elements of the revised Directive is the increase of the individual right to parental leave from currently 3 to 4 months. New is also that each parent must take at least one of the 4 months. This provision represents an encouragement for both parents to make use of the parental leave. Now the Member States and the social partners respectively have been asked to integrate these reforms into the existing regulations.

More flexible working hours after returning from parental leave
The revised Directive aims at a better reconciliation of family and professional life. It provides the opportunity to ask employers for a change or flexibilisation of working hours on return from parental leave for a certain period of time. Employers should consider the requests of their employees, taking the interests of both employees and employers into account. Here too, it us up to the Member States and the social partners respectively, to determine the exact procedures. Even though this regulation represents a clear improvement over the existing one, it did not go far enough for the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). The ETUC demands that employees have a right to flexible working hours, which can only be averted by employers based on actual objective reasons. The ETUC, however, was not able to push this demand through.

Implementation within 2 years
Following the approval of the revised Directive by the ministers of the 27 Member States at Council level, the Member States will have 2 years to convert the Directive into national law. Unfortunately, the European social partners were not able to agree on further provisions in favour of employees. In times of a financial, employment and global economic crisis, concessions by employers are hard to come by.

Further information:

Press Release of the Commission

Framework Agreement on Parental Leave