On 1 August 2019, the Work-life Balance initiative, a key deliverable of the European Pillar of Social Rights, came into effect across the European Union. As the measure is a Directive, countries have three years to transpose the law into national legislation and give effect to its provisions. The initiative aims to create a better balance between parents and people with caring responsibilities in relation to their working and family lives.

As well as a number of measures specifically aimed at improved parental leave, the legal measures within the Directive include specific measures for carers, including:

  • Introduction of carers' leave for workers providing personal care or support to a relative or person living in the same household, with carers being able to take up to 5 days per year.
  • An extension of the existing right to request flexible working arrangements (reduced working hours, flexible working hours and flexibility in place of work) for all carers, and for parents with children up to the age of eight.

A number of non-legislative measures to complement the legislative proposal have also been published, including:

  • Ensuring protection against discrimination and dismissal for parents and carers.
  • Encouraging a gender-balanced use of family-related leave and flexible working arrangements.
  • Making better use of European funds to improve provision of formal care services (childcare, out-of-school care and long-term care).
  • Removing economic disincentives which prevent access to the labour market or working full-time.

The Communication: An initiative to support work-life balance for working parents and carers sets out the full range of legal and policy measures.