The Employment Law Year In Review: Flexible Working And Family Rights

Author:Mr Sean Dempsey (Lewis Silkin LLP)
Profession:Ius Laboris

This series of articles looks back thematically at the employment law year, incorporating contributions from Ius Laboris member firms across the alliance. This part covers developments in flexible working and family rights.

The European Union has agreed a new Work-Life Balance Directive, which must be implemented by member states by 2 August 2022. The Directive provides an EU-wide right to ten days' paternity leave, paid at least at the level of sick pay, from day one. It reforms the existing EU-wide right to parental leave, so that two out of the four months of parental leave must be paid and will not be transferable from one parent to the other. The Directive also introduces a new right to carer's leave, which will give employees the right to up to five days' leave each year to care for someone at home with a serious medical condition in need of care or support. Member states can decide if this is paid. It also requires EU member states to extend the right to request flexible working arrangements to working carers and parents of young children (up to eight years old). A six-month service qualification can be imposed by member states.

Countries across Europe are already improving their paternity rights ahead of the Directive's introduction. In 2019, Austria introduced 'daddy month' (one month's leave following the birth of a child), Italy increased its mandatory paid paternity leave from four to five days and the Netherlands increased its paid paternity leave entitlement from two to five days. With effect from 1 July 2020, the Netherlands will also provide an additional five weeks' paternity leave to be taken within the first six months of the child's birth, paid at 70% of normal salary.

Ireland is increasing its unpaid parental leave entitlement to 26 weeks for both parents with effect from September 2020. It has also introduced a new entitlement to two week's 'parent's benefit' paid by the state.

Spain is equalising its maternity and paternity leave rights. When fully implemented, the law will give all parents in Spain up to 16 week's leave each, with the first six weeks' leave being compulsory for both parents.

In Poland, parents of disabled children obtained the right to request flexible working, and maternity and parental leave became available to employees who are 'other members of immediate family' on the same basis as parents. From 1 January 2020, Slovakia increased its holiday entitlement for employees under 33 who...

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