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EU debate on shared parental leave

BY Gerry O'Hare
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

Shared Parental Leave is back in the news again. The European Parliament has taken steps to ensure that the Parental Leave Directive is consistently applied across the European states.  In some states, public sector employees across Europe have more access to rights and some employees are excluded because they have a fixed-term or zero-hours contract. 

Recent research carried out by My Family Care shows that only 1% of male employees have taken SPL since its introduction last year.  This directly impacts EU aims to get more women into the workplace and allow them to stay in the workplace after maternity leave. The child’s own development was also an incentive. Studies show that fathers being involved with their child at an early age means they are more likely to be involved with their child later in life and help support their development. 

The implementation of the EU Directive should ensure that all states allow their workers to take up to four months’ unpaid parental leave, with one month being non-transferrable, regardless of their employment contract and the sector they work in.  In the meantime, the European Parliament is debating a new legislative proposal to: extend the minimum duration of parental leave to six months; raise the age of the child for which parental leave can be taken; introduce new rules on a minimum two week paternity leave and improve rules for parental leave for parents with a child who is disabled or suffering from a long-term incapacitating illness.  

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