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Principle 9

Work-life balance

As part of the larger fight against gender-based discrimination, work-life balance is one of the challenges of the century. While the position of women in the labour market is deteriorating, populist forces are turning a blind eye to the difficulty women face in the labour market and in society. Innovative solutions within and without the employment relationship may support households and increase equal opportunities among the working members of a family. SDG monitoring is particularly effective in identifying these gender-based disadvantages.

It is important to monitor the implementation of the Work-Life Balance Directive, provide guidance to social partners and encourage interprofessional agreements that reduce the time needed to transpose the directive. The “ETUC Toolkit on the implementation and transposition of the Work Life Balance Directive” – guidelines for ETUC affiliates – could be useful in this phase.

The experience of the Covid19 pandemic should encourage the investment in public care and social services in order to allow women to take more active part into the labour market. In addition, social partners should monitor that national legislations foresee flexible working arrangements and should be empowered to bargain in order to ensure that these are undertaken without any detrimental consequence on women’s’ careers or pay levels.

The EU Semester could investigate EU practices that fund work-life balance instruments (e.g. public means and collective bargaining measures) to trigger upward convergence. This Principle will be connected to innovation in labour laws such as working time sovereignty, childcare guarantees and fair transitions towards open-ended and full-time working contracts.

Actions aimed at setting a minimum floor of rights in the EU, a level playing field in the Single Market

  1. Monitor early implementation of the Work-Life Balance Directive, including focus on leave pay.
  2. Development of ETUC pan-European framework for monitoring the impact of collective agreements on work-life balance at all levels.
  3. Assess the adequacy and effectiveness of the Maternity Directive.

Actions aimed at establishing upward convergence in living and working conditions

  1. Exchange of EU practices to fund work-life balance instruments (public means and collective bargaining measures)
  2. EU Semester should monitor:
(i) female participation in the labour market, and provide a breakdown for full-time/part-time employment; (ii) women and men not in work due to care responsibilities.
  3. To develop and monitor links between public investment in education and training, activation policies and services, and women’s employment; use the gender equality index.
  4. Support and encourage social partners to negotiate/conclude agreements implementing the WLB directive. Develop tools and training for collective agreement on measures related to work-life balance.