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News>Better work-life balance...

Commission pushes for better work-life balance
May 30, 2007

The Commission has adopted today the second stage consultation with workers' and employers' representatives on how to achieve a better balance between work, private and family life. Invited to express their opinions on the need for Community action on this issue last October, thirteen of the European social partners have sent contributions. All have acknowledged the importance of issues such as accessible care facilities for children and dependants, the need for men genuinely to take up reconciliation measures, equal pay, flexible working hours and the possible updating of existing legislation related to reconciliation. Although views differ on what needs to be done and at what level, the majority of the social partners consider that further action is needed in this area.

Vladimír Špidla, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities underlined: "Statistics show that the employment rate gap between women with children and those without is as high as 14.2%. At the same time, companies with experience in parental leave report very few men availing of leave. This shows too many men and women in the EU still have to make difficult choices between family life and a successful career. I believe we need to create the right conditions for people to do both and we cannot achieve this without the full support of the social partners".

Clearly, views on how to proceed differ. Some of the social partner organisations believe that action should be taken at all levels, including EU level (mainly workers' representatives), while other organisations argue that action is only required at national, sectoral, regional and/or company level (mostly employers' organisations). Situations between Member States also vary greatly, which is why today's consultation document highlights that progress on different areas – both non-legislative and legislative – will be vital if Europeans are to achieve a better work, private and family life.

Source: "Commission pushes forward on consultation with workers and employers for better work-life balance ", Europa, May 30, 2007


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