The EU's Work-life Balance Directive: A Lost Opportunity for the UK in Gender Equality?

Caroline de la Porte, Trine P. Larsen, Dorota Szelewa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Adequate leave policies can enable men and women to combine labourmarket participation and childrearing responsibilities. The European Union’s work-life-balance directive (WLBD)—a revision and renaming (2019/1158) of the parental leave directive from 2010—aims to facili‐ tate the combination of work and family life, especially promoting the involvement of fathers / secondary carers in care activities in the private sphere. There are major gaps in the UK’s work-life balance policy, which could have been addressed via the WLBD, were the UK still an EU member state. These include earmarked parental leave, which, if accompanied by generous replacement rates, often leads to fathers / secondary carers becoming more engaged in childrearing responsibilities. This, in turn, improves the likelihood of retaining women in the labour market, as well as having equalising effects in other areas, such as old-age pensions. The policies introduced by the WLBD are: ten days of paternity leave, to be paid at minimum at the level of sick pay; two months of earmarked parental leave, to be compensated at a level decided by member states; five carer days per parent per year and possibilities for flexible work arrangements. While all are relevant to work-life balance, some have more long-term, gender-equalising potential than others.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhither Social Rights in (Post-) Brexit Europe? : Opportunities and Challenges
EditorsMatthew Donoghue, Mikko Kuisma
Number of pages5
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherSocial Europe Publishing
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)9783948314170
ISBN (Electronic)9783948314163
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Cite this