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MEPs vote for improved parental leave across European Union

Press Release

Thursday 21 May 2015

Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, welcomed this week’s vote, in the European Parliament, demanding a new legislation proposal from the European Commission on maternity and paternity leave across the European Union.  Parliament wants fathers to at least ten working days’ paternity leave,  in addition to minimum 20 week maternity leave.

The current proposal has been stalled by the EU Council of Ministers, which has refused to present its position since the European Parliament approved a draft EU law providing for a minimum 20-week, paid maternity leave, in 2010.

Speaking from Strasbourg after the vote, Ms. Childers said:

“The Commission has been signalling a worrisome eagerness to kill the proposal within a few months in the name of good legislative housekeeping, but Parliament has overwhelmingly objected today.

“If we must do it, let’s take the opportunity to restart the process rather than sweep our future under the carpet.

“Parliament and the Council are EU legislators on an equal footing, and the EU governments must not be allowed to ignore a majority of elected representatives who want to see a modicum of work-life balance at such a critical moment in family life.

“This is the kind of short-sighted, counterproductive penny-pinching that undermines the fabric of our societies to no tangible benefit.

“Fathers too have a right to experience and contribute to the earliest stages of development of their children across the Union. Paid paternity leave legislation is long overdue too.

“It’s interesting to see how conservative forces harp on about family values when they see fit, and yet show such little enthusiasm for a modest improvement in the conditions of working people’s family lives.”


Background for editors

Maternity leave is regulated at EU level by the 1992 directive, which lays down a minimum of 14 weeks. In October 2008, the Commission proposed to review the current legislation (Directive 92/85), as part of the “work-life balance” package, based on the International Labour Organisation’s Maternity Protection Convention of 2000.

In October 2010 the European Parliament closed its first reading and submitted the amended legislation to the Council to extend maternity leave from 14 to 20 weeks on full pay and introduce two weeks’ fully paid paternity leave.

The Council has yet to state any position on this issue.

The Commission announced its intention to withdraw the proposal as part of its Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT).