11 May 2016
By Bryan Smyth
“Adequate parental leave, and encouraging fathers to take up such leave, is a necessity if we are to achieve true equality in the workplace”,
Those were the words of Cork based Deirdre Clune MEP (Fine Gael) ahead of a European Parliament debate on Thursday on the implementation of parental leave across the EU.
“Thankfully in Ireland, from September, fathers will have the option to apply for two weeks’ paid paternity leave following the birth of their child,” the Ireland South MEP said.
“That is exactly the kind of incentive we need EU-wide to encourage dads to support women by helping out with childcare. Unpaid or poorly paid family leave results in low take-up of the schemes so fair compensation is crucial.”
“It is widely accepted that women continue to be worst affected in juggling a career and raising children, adequate leave and entitlements and familial or other support, where possible, are essential.
“Tomorrow, the European Parliament will urge the Commission to launch proactive policies to help women enter and stay in the job market and to safeguard and support their return as mothers to the job market with the objective of achieving stable and decent work, on equal conditions to men, especially policies that promote a better work-life balance for all parents.
“When parental leave is used in a more balanced way by both parents, it can help reduce discrimination against women in the labour market,” Clune continued.
Most EU Member States now comply with the minimum standards laid down by the 2010 Parental Leave Directive. At the time of its introduction, Eurostat research showed that the numbers taking up parental leave in 2010 was 3.5 million, but of that figure, only 94,800 or 2.7 percent were men.
Eurofound research estimated the cost of the gender gap in employment for European economies was €370 billion in 2013.