The paternity leave legislation also seeks to strengthen the role of a father or an equivalent second parent in the family.
The EPP MEP who steered the directive through the European Parliament, Maltese member David Casa, said, “Today is a great day for all European families.”
“Parliament has widely adopted the agreement for work-life balance rules setting up several new individual rights, not only for parents, but also for those who care for their relatives.
“This directive invests in bringing about more gender equality and a better division of responsibilities. Women have suffered from lack of equality leading to difference in salaries and a pension gap.”
“Now they will be supported to enter the labour market and reach their full potential, while fathers will have a bigger role in their children’s upbringing.”
Casa was one of several members who voiced support for the new law during a debate in Parliament.
The mini plenary adopted the new rules on paternity leave and non-transferable parental leave in a final vote on Thursday.
“This directive invests in bringing about more gender equality and a better division of responsibilities. Women have suffered from lack of equality leading to difference in salaries and a pension gap” David Casa MEP
The law, informally agreed with EU ministers, and adopted by MEPs with 490 in favour, 82 against and 48 abstentions, sets minimum requirements for all Member States.
The debate was told that this would benefit children and family life, while reflecting societal changes more accurately, and promoting gender equality.
The directive seeks to allow parents and people with caring responsibilities to better reconcile their work and caring duties.
The agreed text introduces a 10-day paternity leave remunerated at national sick pay level, and four months of parental leave of which 2 months will be paid and will be non-transferable.
The text also deals with the special situation of carers by creating a 5-day annual carers’ leave and gives the right to request flexible working arrangements for working parents balancing between the needs of both workers and employers.
Other MEPs welcomed the move, including UK Socialist deputy Simon Sion, who said the directive offered a “great opportunity to Member States to gently raise the floor” when it comes to work/life balance.
Another MEP, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, the lead negotiator of the directive in the European Parliament’s Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee, said: “Taking action was imperative for my group as the costs of the inequalities between men and women’s employment amounted to almost 3 percent of the EU GDP in 2013.”
“We stood united during the negotiations and succeeded in giving both mothers and fathers the opportunity to have equal rights to take care of their children and to pursue their professional careers” Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz MEP
“We stood united during the negotiations and succeeded in giving both mothers and fathers the opportunity to have equal rights to take care of their children and to pursue their professional careers.”
“The agreement adopted today is a great step towards a better work-life balance for all working parents and towards improving the lives of families across all Member States.”
Also speaking in the debate, Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour, praised Parliament for backing the new law, saying it will benefit both parents and carers.