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A fundamental step towards allowing women and men reconcile family and professional life

European Parliament votes in favour of the maternity leave directive

21.10.2010 |COFACE

Brussels, 20th October, 2010 – The Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union (COFACE) applauds the European Parliament's vote in favour of the FEMM Committee report revising Directive 92/85/EEC – the so-called ‘Maternity Leave Directive’.

A longer and fully paid maternity leave will contribute to create a more favourable environment for women and men with family responsibilities, offering a fundamental support for the reconciliation of family, private and professional life and thus fostering female participation in the labour market before and following childbirth.

The FEMM Report includes the request to Member States to give fathers the right to a fully paid paternity leave of at least two weeks. COFACE warmly welcomes this provision, which constitutes a crucial first step for the re-balancing of traditional roles of men and women within the family and will allow fathers to develop a more intimate bound with the new-born child.

The vote in the European Parliament has also been a clear vote in favour of gender equality: denial of full payment during maternal leave is one of the determining factors of the gender pay gap, which still jeopardises the attempts of reaching equality in pay between women and men across the EU. Last but not least, the provision of a minimum of 20 weeks of fully paid leave for women who have given birth or are breastfeeding will provide extensive benefits for the health and well-being of both mother and child, as confirmed by UNICEF and WHO.

William Lay, COFACE Director said: “This is a great success. Women and men living in the EU welcome the consideration and the support given by the EP to their parenting role. This is a real advancement towards a more family-friendly EU which, in these hard times, is much appreciated”.

A net majority of Members of the European Parliament have proved their commitment towards the health and rights of women and children, clearly stating that no women should be penalised in Europe for the choice of having a child. The text will now have to be approved by the Council, and COFACE can only expect Member States to comply with the will expressed by the elected representatives of the European citizens, and show the same courage when making a long-term investment in the future of European families and our societies.

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