At its today’s sitting, the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) supported the initiative of the European Commission to address the challenges arising from work-life balance for parents and people with caring responsibilities. The initiative concerns childcare services, long-term care services, flexible working arrangements, possibilities of family-related leave and measures supporting reconciliation of work and family life.
In the opinion of Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Kalle Palling, the priorities of Estonian family policy are similar to those of the European Union. “In comparison to the EU average, we have longer maternity leave and parental leave, and one of the most generous systems of parental benefits. At the same time we have to increase the availability of childcare places and to improve the possibilities for balancing work and family life, especially for men,” Palling said.
“One solution could be to make the paid paternal leave compulsory – so that if a man does not use his paternal leave, then the benefit will be lost. This would certainly be an effective measure for increasing the role of fathers in family life, and would make it easier for mothers to return to the labour market sooner,” Palling explained, and added that improving of work-life balance would contribute to the increasing of birth rate.
The European Commission is planning to submit a legislative package regulating the reconciliation of work and family life this year. The package contains amendments to the Maternity Leave Directive, Parental Leave Directive and Part-time Work Directive. It is also intended to introduce new provisions regulating carers’ leave.
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