Will Better Work Life Balance Be Created By New EU Directive?

9th September 2019

The Work Life Balance Directive is set to introduce new rights under EU law. The directive covers parental leave and flexible working arrangements and rights for carers. As a result businesses with workers in European Union countries will need to plan for the changes.

The Directive came into force on 1st August 2019. For parents and carers in all EU Member states it provides better rights to leave and flexible working. The directive should be implemented within three years by Member states. It will need to be adopted into in-country national law systems. So, depending on which EU country you are in over the next three years the directive may or may not have been implemented.

The Directive – What does it cover?

The work life balance directive covers four key areas:-

  • The introduction of paternity leave.  Under the directive, fathers must be able to take at least 10 working days of paternity leave. This should be taken around the time of the birth of their child, compensated at least at the level of sick pay.
  • Ensuring that two out of the four months of parental leave are non-transferable between parents. These months should be compensated at a level that is determined by the Member State.
  • The introduction of carers’ leave.  Up to five days of leave per year will be given to workers providing personal care or support to a relative.
  • Extending the right to request flexible working arrangements. The directive is aimed at carers and working parents of children up to eight years old.

Fourteen weeks of maternity leave is currently available to families under EU law gives. The directive is designed to modernize the existing EU legal framework on family leave and flexible working. It reflects increasing calls for fathers to take up their share of parenting responsibilities. It goes further by addressing concerns over the EU’s ageing population. Here, the directive seeks to support a future demand for informal care by family members.

What about the work life balance law in the UK and what about Brexit?

This all depends on the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

If the UK exits the EU without a deal, we can assume that the UK won’t need to comply. The UK already provides a right to paternity leave and pay, and all workers have the right to request flexible working.

In the UK there is no existing right to carers’ leave. Therefore, this would need to be introduced if a deal is struck.

HR has become increasingly complicated.  Knowledge of HR, employment rights, compensation, and benefits in European countries is constantly changing.  As a result, this new directive will mean HR and payroll teams will need to be fully on top of in-country legislation to ensure each employee’s rights are maintained.

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