The Staff Regulations of the European Union’s institutions have to be modernized. The European Parliament is equally involved, along with the Council of the European Union in the so called ordinary legislative procedure giving the same weight to both institutions when deciding about the renewed rules for more than 55 000 citizens employed by the EU civil service. The Legal Affairs Committee, the Budget and Budgetary Control Committees as well as the Women’s Rights Committee are involved in this process.
In the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality of the European Parliament I was appointed the so-called rapporteur for this dossier. The committee adopted all proposed changes. The outcome of the votes is important for realizing a better work-life balance both for men and women. The Europe 2020 Strategy specifically calls for 75 % employment of both men and women by 2020. To include and keep more women in the EU-workforce we need to further improve family-friendly working conditions, such as better and more realistic provisions for parental leave, family leave, flexitime and tele-working and make these arrangements available to all staff employed in the EU civil service, including for managers. There are good reasons to presume that the number of applications from female candidates for management positions would decrease if candidates were to lose their right to flexible working hours with their nomination to a management post. Women should, on the contrary, be encouraged to apply for both senior and middle management positions.
Equality between women and men is a fundamental value of the European Union and as such, EU institutions should set the example when it comes to gender equality and equal participation of men and women.
In this regard I would like to stress that the take-up rate of parental leave, especially by men, is still disappointingly low. The adopted proposals repair the inadequate parental leave provisions by improving the financial conditions and setting minimum allowances, thus encouraging both parents to take leave.
Better access to tele-working, apart from other flexible working-time arrangements, also received a majority of the votes in the Women’s Rights Committee. Clear benefits of tele-working are: high degree of autonomy, freedom to manage working time, greater empowerment, greater motivation to better performance and shorter travelling time resulting in less pollution. It is also desirable in terms of cost reduction, staff retention and better reconciliation of work and family life.
A last important point is a better protection of single parents who should have the right to work part-time independent of the age of the child. This provision is in line with the European Parliament resolution of 25 October 2011 on the situation of single mothers.
Finally, a quota of at least 40 percent of women in management positions in the European Union’s administration is also requested by the Women’s Rights Committee.