EP vote for new Work-Life Balance Directive is good news for working parents and carers in Ireland

04 April 2019

Sheila Nunan, Labour’s candidate for the Ireland South constituency in the May 24th European elections, has welcomed today’s European Parliament vote to adopt the new EU directive on work-life balance as ‘good news for working parents and carers’ in Ireland.

Ms Nunan was referring to the new directive, negotiated by MEPs and national governments’ earlier this year, which establishes a number of new rights for working parents and working carers (including of elderly and sick relatives) in Ireland. These include:

  • An individual right to four months of parental leave, two months of which are non-transferable between parents
  • the right of working parents and carers to take up to five days carers leave each year (with the government yet to decide whether this is paid or not)
  • the right of working parents and carers to ask for more flexible working arrangements, to which employers must respond and give a justification (if refused).

Ms Nunan said:

‘The new Work-Life Balance directive represents real progress for working parents and carers in Ireland, even if it could have gone further in some areas.

‘It encourages men and women to take a more equal share of family related responsibilities and in the take-up of family-related leave and flexible working arrangements and it establishes new rights for working carers, including the carers of elderly or sick relatives’.

‘It is also good for the economy. According to a June 2018 Eurobarometer survey, 71% of Irish parents said that if more flexible work arrangements were available, they would continue to work instead of taking extended leave or leaving the workforce altogether.

‘Regina Doherty TD, the Minister for Employment and Social Protection, and other EU Social Affairs Ministers, should now adopt the new directive without further delay, and the Irish government should enact it into Irish law well before the three-year deadline.

‘It is also crucial that the government treat this new legislation as a floor of minimum provisions to be built on, not as a maximum to stay within. For example, it should introduce paid carers’ leave and not introduce any additional restrictions on the exercise of this right, as was inserted into the directive, at the insistence of some governments”


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