Press Release

Congress Calls on Irish Govt. to Support Greater Equality and Back Adoption of EU Work-Life Balance Directive

Date Released: 08 March 2018

Govt should mark International Women's Day with support for greater family leave and flexible working

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has joined with trade unions across Europe to demand swift adoption of a new Directive on Work-Life Balance that would enhance women’s work opportunities through provision of better family-related leave and flexible working.

The draft Work-Life Balance Directive was first published by the European Commission in April 2017 and is due to be discussed by EU Employment Ministers on March 15.    

“To mark International Women’s Day 2018 the Irish government should commit to supporting the adoption of the Directive and help create greater equality in relation to family and care-related leave,” Congress Equality Officer David Joyce.

If adopted, the proposed Directive would lead to the introduction of paid parental leave on a similar basis to maternity and paternity leave, extend the range of such leave and allow for greater flexibility. It would also provides for a right to flexible working arrangements for workers with children or other dependent relatives – all longstanding demands of Congress. 

The Congress call echoes that made by unions across Europe, through the Europe Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), which is backing the adoption of the Work-Life Balance Directive.

Despite the fact that research has demonstrated how work life balance initiatives are mutually beneficial to workers and their families, enterprises and wider society, Ireland’s family leave provision lags behind many of our EU partners.  Currently parental leave in Ireland is unpaid.

With up to 50% of workers in Ireland earning less than €34,000 in 2017 and almost one in five classified as low paid, it is clear that many households will be unable to avail of unpaid Parental Leave,” said Congress Equality Officer David Joyce.

“We strongly urge the Government not to put budgetary concerns before gender equality and workers’ rights. New rights would ensure some women did not have to give up work because of care or family pressures, would reduce care costs, enable greater equality in child-rearing and boost gender equality,” he said.

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