Many families in the European Union struggle to balance their professional and domestic responsibilities. Harmony between work and home could be an important way to help children and adults and promote a more prosperous society at large. More action could be taken to support work-life balance for working parents.
The work-life balance proposal has a chance of having an impact on the labor markets and welfare systems in Europe. However, given the variation in policies across member states and levels of political support among key stakeholders, the proposal may end up stuck in negotiations.
Whether fathers take parental leave depends on economic factors, but flexibility of timing and workplace culture also seem to make a difference. The link between fathers taking parental leave and improvements in child development makes it an important area for European policymakers to consider.
Any policy solution for extending maternity leave must strike a balance between protecting infant health through extended breastfeeding and mitigating any potentially negative impact on the mother's career progression or increased costs to business.
Single parents head 10.4 percent of households with children across Europe — 20.4 percent in the UK — and the socioeconomic gap between single- and two-parent households continues to grow. Accessible and flexible work policies are needed to improve employment conditions for single parents, especially mothers.
The EU will fail to meet the Europe 2020 Strategy target of having 75 percent of people between the ages of 20 and 64 in work unless enough women are encouraged to enter, or remain in, the workforce. Here are seven factors the new EU Commissioners responsible for gender equality and employment must address.