Today (11 July 2018), the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) committee voted on its position regarding the Directive on work-life balance for parents and carers in the EU. The aim of achieving higher levels of female participation in the labour market and a fairer environment with equal opportunities therein for both men and women is an ambition we welcome. However, ESBA has some concerns about some of the elements in this mandate.
The EMPL committee voted to increase the current 1 month of non-transferable parental leave to 4 months. This would mean that parents, who currently have the right to transfer 3 out of 4 months, would no longer be able transfer this time period of 3 months to the other parent. We believe that it is not with the EU’s mandate to determine on behalf of families, how they choose to allocate their time. From a small employer’s perspective, the fact that this leave has to be paid at 78% of the gross wage level could incur additional financial burdens to SMEs, as they might be required to pay a substitute for the 4 months this worker takes up the leave to keep their organization up and running.
We also do not support an obligation for adaptable working arrangements. By their very nature, mirco and small businesses are flexible, as teams are small and employees are in close and direct contact with the business owner all the time. Creating unnecessary obligations only adds to the burden micro-and small enterprises, whilst creating a false sense of flexibility. Although Member States are invited to regularly assess and publish the impact on MSMEs on the transposition of this Directive, we feel this does not sufficiently curb the risk of potential disproportionate burdens on micro and small businesses.