19-01-2023 Published: our working paper on the potential of the work-life balance directive (WLBD) to support a shift to gender equalization
Working Paper Strengthening European social rights via the work-life balance directive?
Under the research direction of CBS EUsocialcit professor Caroline de la Porte, a team of CBS, UVA and UC3M researchers has finalized an analysis of the implementation, and possible impact of the EU’s work-life balance directive in six countries: Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Poland
This working paper examines the potential of the directive on work-life balance (WLBD) to increase the role of fathers in care, and thereby, to enhance possibilities for mothers to retain and strengthen their link to the labour market. The main instruments through which the directive seeks to lead to enhanced social rights for fathers/second carers are paternity leave (10 days, payable at the level of sick pay), and earmarked parental leave (2 months, with a high level of compensation). These provisions are examined in the national case studies, applying two components of the power resources framework: normative and instrumental resources. Regarding instrumental resources, we focus on easily accessible (digital) application procedures; the development of information targeted at workers, i.e through union representatives and/or HR departments; and targeted information campaigns.
Concerning normative resources, in three countries that had long leave, but did not previously earmarked paid parental leave (Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland), the planned financial compensation for the new period of reserved leave will be relatively high, which can be conducive to take-up. Thus, the countries that were furthest away from the father-specific provisions pre-directive, are most ambitious regarding implementation of formal social rights. By contrast, for France, where the level of compensation for parental leave is very low, i.e. below the minimum income, changes to the level of compensation have not yet been settled. In Spain and Germany, which have relatively long reserved rights for fathers pre-directive, few changes are planned. However, even in countries with generous formal social rights to formally implement the WLBD, there are significant differences in the instrumental resources devoted to a shift from de jure to de facto use of social rights. Concerning accessible (digital) application procedures, this is extremely important to plan, to incentivize leave among fathers. Denmark is making plans to ensure that all citizens understand and have access to their (new) rights. In the Netherlands, similar efforts are underway, while in Poland, this is currently not being addressed, as the aim of the government is to maintain the status quo in terms of parental leave take-up (mainly by women). In Germany and France, there are, no new resources currently devoted to communicating or simplifying the application procedure. In both countries, it is highly complex, due to separate applications for leave and for financial compensation. The analysis shows that it is important to consider normative with instrumental social rights, to understand the dynamics of potential take-up of rights. The deliverable concludes with policy recommendations to reap the benefits of the WLBD for European citizens, focusing on the importance of formal leave rights with high compensation, easily accessible and simple information about leave rights, to be communicated by unions & HR departments, easily accessible (digital) application procedures, clarity of terms related to leave and information campaigns targeted in sectors where take-up is low.