A leaked draft of the so-called work-life balance proposal obtained by EURACTIV.com gives fathers a guarantee of ten days off, which they can take only right after their child’s birth. In an attempt to avoid any pitfalls in countries with restrictive laws on gay marriage, the Commission proposal specifies that fathers can take leave “without prejudice to marital or family states as defined in national law”.
The EU executive wants the new paternity leave law to help women, who generally take more time off around the time of a child’s birth than men do. The new bill should “encourage men to bear a more equal share of caring responsibilities”, according to the draft.
All EU member states except Germany, Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg and Slovakia already have laws guaranteeing some kind of paternity leave, although the length and the amount of pay vary. Fathers must receive a salary equivalent to their sick-pay leave or more under the draft EU rules.
The proposal comes as a replacement of a 2008 attempt to update EU maternity leave law, which stalled in negotiations with member states for seven years amid disagreements over the rate of pay for mothers. In 2015, the Commission withdrew the proposal and promised to come up with a new bill.