EU Extends Minimum Parental Leave to 4 MonthsBulgaria in EU | March 9, 2010, Tuesday // 13:28| views
The 27 EU nations now have two years to amend their laws. The leave will apply to all workers, regardless of contract. Photo by BGNES
The European Union has extended the minimum period of leave for parents to four months each - a benefit separate from maternity leave.
At least one month of the four cannot be transferred to the other parent. The idea is to enable more equal take-up of leave by both parents, the BBC reported.
A previous EU directive set the minimum leave period at three months.
The 27 EU nations now have two years to amend their laws. The leave will apply to all workers, regardless of contract.
Parental leave is aimed at assisting childcare for children up to the age of eight, though each EU member state is free to decide the time scale, through negotiation with employers and trade unions.
The member states can also decide whether the leave is paid or unpaid, as well as other details of implementation.
The directive says workers will retain the right to return to the same job or an equivalent without suffering discrimination for having taken parental leave.
The agreement reached by EU ministers on Monday also says workers may request changes to their working hours for a limited period after returning from parental leave.
A European Parliament committee has adopted draft legislation to extend maternity leave across Europe to 20 weeks on full pay, but the proposals still have a long way to go and may be substantially revised.
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