The Directive (EU) 2019/1158 on work-life balance for parents and carers came into effect in August of this year. It introduces a series of legislative measures to update the existing EU legal and policy frameworks aimed at:
- providing better support in regard to balance between work and private life of parents and carers;
- promoting a more equal sharing of parental leave between men and women; and
- tackling the under-representation of women in the labour market.
The main measures under the Directive include the following:
- Introducing paternity leave: under the Directive, fathers must be able to take at least 10 working days of paternity leave at the birth of a child, with a minimum sick pay allowance. In this context, it is up to the Member States to determine whether paternity leave can be taken partly before or only after the birth of the child.
- Ensuring that 2 out of 4 months of parental leave are non-transferable between parents and are compensated at a rate to be determined by the Member State. The purpose of this provision is to encourage fathers to take parental leave while preserving the right of each parent to take at least 4 months of parental leave under Directive 2010/18/EU.
- Introduction of leave for carers: workers who provide personal care or support to a relative will be entitled up to 5 days of leave per year.
- Extension of the right to request flexible working arrangements for carers and working parents of children up to (at least) 8 years of age. The Directive considers flexible forms of work to mean the possibility for workers to adapt their working time arrangements, including remote working arrangements, flexible working schedules, or reduced working hours.
The Directive is also accompanied by a series of policy measures to help Member States achieve the objectives of a better work-life balance and a more equal distribution of caring responsibilities. These measures include:
- promoting the use of European funding to improve the provision of formal care services,
- ensuring that parents and carers are protected from discrimination or dismissal; and
- removing economic barriers to other earners in the family.
Through these measures, the Directive aims to improve work-life balance and contribute to greater female employment and economic stability for families.
In view of the above, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia is preparing a comprehensive amendment of the parental leave regime and some minor adjustments to family benefits in order to implement the Directive, and will further propose an amendment to the Parental Protection and Family Benefits Act (ZSDP-1).