European Council extends parental leave

The European Council has adopted a directive extending workers' rights to
parental leave from three to four months for each parent. At least one of the
four months cannot be transferred to the other parent (i.e. it is lost if not
taken), encouraging fathers to take the leave.

The new directive seeks to better match professional and family life and to
promote gender equality on the labour market. It implements the revised
framework agreement on parental leave concluded by the social partners at
European level.

Other new elements compared to the existing directive 96/34 include the
clarification that all workers are covered, regardless of the type of their
contract (e.g. fixed-term, part-time and temporary agency workers).

The new directive also provides for better protection against discrimination
and ensures a smoother return to work. A worker applying for or taking parental
leave must not be treated less favourably for doing so. When returning from
parental leave, workers may request changes to their working hours for a
limited period. Employers must consider and respond to such requests, taking
into account both employers' and workers' needs.

Member states have two years in which to transpose the new directive into
national law.

More information - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work