On 21 February, ENIL’s Advocacy Officer Frank Sioen and EVS volunteer Miriam Graute attended the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs’ public hearing concerning the Directive on “Work-life balance for parents and carers” launched by the European Commission last April. We are particularly interested in the provision of 5 days per year of carers leave within the proposed Directive. In our January newsletter, we asked you to contact your government and provided a template letter from the Work-Life Balance (WLB) Coalition of NGOs for this purpose.
At the hearing, a lot of emphasis was placed on child care and the non-transferability of paternal leave to ensure its uptake. One MEP repeatedly emphasized the need to understand leave taken for parental/ carers leave was not a holiday, but time for specific other work to be done, e.g. care work.
To provide a better work-life balance to parents and carers, it is important to disentangle care work and responsibility from relatedness. More simply put, anyone should be able to take carers leave to provide support, not only immediate family members. This will allow the persons providing and receiving the support to mutually agree on how to organize it.
As part of an NGO alliance on work-life balance*, ENIL works together with other NGO’s to shift the emphasis of the directive towards a social view on care and support consistent with the UN CRPD. A key point here is the need to go from a business to a user centred approach. Within the alliance we will also continue to emphasize the strong link between the WLB directive and the transition from care provided in institutional settings towards services like Personal Assistance budgets, which put users in full control of the support process.
* Penguins were chosen as the alliance’s mascot as they share parenting work equally.