Petition to the European Parliament: Equal and non-transferable parental leave

The European Commission has issued a Communication to the European Parliament (COM (2008) 635) which proposes the extension of the minimum length of maternity leave from 14 weeks (set in the directive 92/85/EEC) to 18 weeks. However, the EC does not even mention the need for any minimum period of paternity leave.

The persons and entities who subscribe this petition express our concern about the persistent inequality between maternity and paternity leave. This inequality reflects the idea that care is primarily a women responsibility.

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 payed 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 for men to exercise it 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 prove 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 approve a Directive on parental leave which urge member states to:

Establish that parental leave must be, for both parents, NON TRANSFERABLE, OF THE SAME LENGTH ANDWITH THE SAME COMPULSORY PART.
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 human capital 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 raise. It is therefore a key reform on the road to a sustainable economic model.

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