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Europe — New EU parental leave agreement

01 December 2009

The Ministers for Social Affairs of the European Union (EU) member states have yesterday agreed a new parental leave arrangement in order to end the huge disparity of arrangements in different countries of the EU, Tageblatt reports.

The new arrangement will mean that both parents have the right to a minimum of four months of parental leave instead of three, as practised in some member states.
In France and Poland, parents currently have the right to up to three years of parental leave whereas the UK, Belgium, Spain and Portugal will have to extend parental leave to four months now.

The agreement is based on discussions between employers and employees (social partners), which have been finalised in June this year. The European Commissioner for Labour, Vladimir Spidla, said "this is without doubt progress for some member states and it shows how the EU involves the social partners in their decision making."

There is also a new clause on transferring parental leave from one of the parents to the other. In the past, some countries allowed the transfer of all parental leave from one parent to the other whereas other countries did not allow any transfer at all.

Now, three out of the four months can be transferred by either parent to the other. This could mean that the father has to take at least one month of parental leave and could transfer the other three months of his entitlement to the mother, who would therefore have seven months.

The preamble of the agreement says "in many European countries the attempt to encourage fathers to take their fair share of family responsibilities has not worked. The fact that it is not possible to transfer all parental leave to the mother might play an important role where fathers are concerned."



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