European Commission roadmap in favour of carers' leave
The European Commission issued in August a new policy initiative on the topic of work-life balance under the title 'New start to address the challenges of work-life balance faced by working families'.
This roadmap substitutes the Commission's proposal for a new Maternity Leave Directive that was withdrawn from the negotiation process in July 2015 as its adoption had been blocked in the EU Council since 2008. Its main objective is to continue enforcing developments that will support workers in managing both their professional and family/caring responsibilities and address the women's under-representation in employment in the EU (which impacts women's income in old age).
The document proposes a number of measures for more flexible working arrangements, including new provisions on carers' leave for dependant persons. It furthermore acknowledges the lack of long-term-care services and suggests developing non binding EU benchmarks with regard to 'child and other dependent persons care infrastructure availability, accessibility and quality, incentives and disincentives in tax and benefit systems'.
AGE believes that our working conditions should be better adapted to the development of our societies and of people's needs. Appropriate measures in that field would contribute to reducing gender inequalities (at all ages) and adressing the demographic challenge in fostering older workers' employment and supporting families to cope with older dependant relatives. The introduction of a leave for informal carers is an important step towards this goal and the recognition of this raising issue at EU level.
Likewise, in March 2015 AGE responded to an EU public consultation on the revision of the European Working Time Directive, advocating for better balance between work and private life in the current context of population ageing.