Principle 9 of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) states that “Parents and people with caring responsibilities have the right to suitable leave, flexible working arrangements and access to care services. (…)”. In view of addressing the challenges faced by parents and carers, the European Commission has launched in April 2017 a proposal for a Directive on work-life balance. The proposal is complemented by the European Commission Communication “An initiative to support work-balance for working parents and carers”, which outlines a set of non-legislative actions to improve the quality, affordability and access to childcare and long-term care.
Whereas the Directive proposal would strengthen legislation on leave and flexible working arrangements across Europe, it remains weaker on access to care. Social Services Europe understands this as partly due to a lack of research done on the relationship between access to care services and work-life balance.
To counter this, Social Services Europe launched a research project aiming to provide greater clarity on the relationship between access to care services and work-life balance and employment, and female employment in particular. The research provides further evidence on the need for the European Union to be more proactive in improving access to quality care services. This is one of the single biggest factors to improve work-life balance in Europe, whilst also boosting job creation, inclusive growth, social cohesion, gender equality and human rights.