David Casa says work-life balance directive will encourage shift towards fairer society

Nationalist MEP David Casa, the directive’s lead negotiator, discussed the new legislation at a public discussion in Valletta on Friday

An EU directive that will give all men ten days of paternity leave will help encourage a change in mentality towards a fairer society.

The new Work-Life Directive, which is being spearheaded by Nationalist MEP David Casa, was agreed upon by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers last month and sets the rate of pay for paternity leave at not less than the national sick pay.

The directive will also give workers who are taking care of any relatives a Europe-wide five-day annual carer’s leave. 

Speaking at a public discussion at Europe House in Valletta, Casa said that the legislation would help level the playing field between men and women in the job market and help reduce the gender pay gap. 

Casa said the government should agree to foot the bill for the proposed benefits.

Casa was speaking during a public discussion on the new work-life  balance
Casa was speaking during a public discussion on the new work-life balance

READ MORE: Men set to get 10 days of paid paternity leave as EU agrees new directive

The Nationalist MEP explained that in drawing up the proposal, the Committee for Employment and Social Affairs sought to strike a balance between seeking to empower people while also avoiding negative economic repercussions. “If we hurt the small businesses, we would not be introducing rights, but rather taking them away." 

Casa stressed that the new directive would ultimately benefit both parents. 

“We want the responsibility of the children to be evenly spread, for us to break from the traditional norms,” he said. “This not only helps the mother by ensuring that the responsibility for raising children is not placed solely on her, but it also allows father get more quality time with his children.”

He argued that the current legislation that gives parents the right to four months of parental leave was not effective because it was only available to those who could afford to take four months of unpaid leave.

In addition to contributing to a fairer society, Casa said that reducing the gender pay gap and creating a fairer labour market would save European governments millions of Euro.

It will also help send a message to member states ahead of negotiations on a maternity leave directive, he said. The European Parliament has proposed extending maternity leave to 20 weeks and adding two weeks of paternity leave under the same conditions as those applicable to maternity leave. However, Casa said, negotiations remained blocked because to lack of agreement on the alignment of social measures. 

General Workers Union (GWU) secretary general Josef Bugeja welcomed the new directive, arguing it reflected the the changes in the way peopole's lives and relationships. 

He said it was clear that a social shift towards more shared responsibilities has already begun , adding that such directives would serve to encourage this further.  

Similarly, Association for Equality chairperson Anna Borg said that public policy needed to continue encouraging this change of mentality.

"If employers keep seeing men as bread-winners and women as responsible for children, the gender pay gap and imbalances at the workplaces will remain.”

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