Reconciliation of work and family life is still challenging for women in EU Member states.
Carers’ leave is defined as ‘leave to take care of ill, disabled or impaired family members on a temporary basis’. Caring responsibilities currently predominantly fall on women, thus potentially having an impact upon their ability to balance work and family life, and consequently their labour market participation.
The European Commission has launched a study to assess the economic and social costs and benefits of possible EU measures on carers’ leave that fall within the wider scope of EU family leave provisions such as maternity leave, paternity leave and parental leave.The introduction of measures on carer’s leave is important for numerous reasons:
- It can enhance family welfare. In the context of Europe’s ageing population the need for people to care for older family members is increasing and it is crucial for them to be able to conciliate work and care for dependants
It can increase female employment rates which are, as stated in the Europe 2020 strategy, vital to Europe’s economy as a better utilisation of women’s skills and potential will increase Europe’s productivity and competitiveness
- It can increase fertility rates. Countries where women are able to combine work and family life tend to have higher fertility rates
- It can contribute to reduce gender pay gap and labour market segregation
- It can facilitate a more equal distribution of domestic responsibilities
DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities has commissioned the impact assessment of potential EU measures on carer’s leave to the EPEC (1) consortium in which the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations is a partner.The study objectives are to assess:
- What are the current provisions of carer’s leave in EU Member States, EFTA/EEA countries and candidate countries? Which share of men take up leave? What is the length of carer’s leave entitlements and what are the compensation rates?
- What is the impact of existing leave arrangements among Member States which already have adopted carer’s leave measures?
- What would be the costs and benefits associated with potential EU action(s) in the area of carer’s leave?
The study will involve consultations of relevant stakeholders at EU level and in all Member States.
The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations has recently been involved in further research on reconciliation of work and private life and gender equality with the impact assessment of EU measures on paternity leave.
(1) EPEC is a consortium consisting of the research and consulting organisations: GHK Consulting, the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations and Technopolis Group