The Platform for Equal, Non-Transferable and 100% Paid Parental Leave (PLENT) expresses its concern about the persistent inequality between leave for fathers and mothers. This inequality reflects the idea that care is still considered a women responsibility.
At present there are two different directives in the EU that are completely disconnected. One is the Directive on Maternity leave (92/85/EEC, under DG health), providing a minimum of 14 weeks with no loose of earnings for mothers. On the other hand, the Parental Leave Directive (2010/18/EU, under DG Employment) provides an equal period of time for each parent (4 months), but this period does not have to be paid and only 1 month has to be non-transferable. So, despite the “equality” and “protection” appearance, all kind of leaves in these two directives are actually designed for mothers and not for fathers: maternity leave because it is literally for mothers; parental leave because it is not paid and/or transferable.
We appeal to the European Parliament reiterated declarations in favor of gender equality. Currently, and even more so in this period of economic crisis, protecting women’s jobs requires that they are not marked with the label of ‘less available’ to paid work. In family life, on the other hand, in order to move towards the elimination of gender-differentiated roles, it is necessary that fathers care for their babies as much as mothers. Fortunately the society has adopted the value of co-responsibility for care, but to achieve this goal fathers need to have granted their parental leave and parental benefit in the same terms as mothers
We believe that parental leave must be individual and not transferable, just like the rest of Social Security rights which are based on personal contributions. Empirical evidence proves that men tent to not taking the leave if they have the possibility to transfer it to women, whether for reasons of education or because they are forced by companies. Furthermore, all women are penalized by higher absences of mothers from work. Once both parents have equal and non-transferable leaves, these leaves could be increased together without compromising the goal of equality. While maternity and paternity leave continue to be unequal, increasing maternity leave would exacerbate the inequalities.
Therefore, we ask the European Parliament to replace the existing two Directives for a single directive on paternity/maternity/parental leave which urge member states to:
– Establish that parental leave must be, for each parent, of equal duration, non-transferable in its entirety and without any economic loss.
– Put in place the adequate measures in order to arrive to this goal of effective equality of mothers and fathers leaves in a reasonable period of time
This reform is essential for European citizens to reconcile their personal and professional lives equally. Besides, this reform is not only affordable but also a very profitable investment to end with the actual situation in which employment potential of women is wasted, at the same time that men potential as caregivers is also wasted. With this reform, women and men would have more possibilities to have children and so fertility rates would rise. It is therefore a key reform on the road to a sustainable economic model.