The European Union has taken a step to interfere in parents’ individual child care decisions. The situation calls for decisive action as the work-life balance directive is to be implemented by August 2022 by EU countries.

Until now, the rules assumed that a woman who wants to return to work can transfer her maternity and parental leave to the child’s father and he can stay at home with their baby, except for the very period immediately after childbirth, which she should spend at home for health reasons.

Directive (EU) 2019/1158 (the so-called “work-life balance” directive)  ensures that at least two months of parental leave be made  available to each parent exclusively and that cannot be transferred to the other parent. The EU document imposes, among other things, two-month parental leave exclusively for fathers with no option to transfer it to mothers.

In contrast, we believe that it is a parent’s right to choose how we take care of the home and children and who will work – i.e., the division of responsibilities. There is no one-size-fits-all way to figure out what this will look like for every family, as everyone is different and will work it out differently. So why force parents and put pressure on a woman to return to work as soon as possible, since we are the ones who most often take maternity and parental leave? 

We consider it a good change that in Poland the amendment to the regulations is planned so that  maternity and parental leave will be extended by two months. However, we believe that it should be the case that a father who does not wish to take leave has the right to transfer those two months to the child’s mother or other eligible family member. 

For all these reasons, we demand that officials involved in the law-making process respect the autonomy of the family and the private choices of the spouses, consistent with their aspirations and value systems. The division of household responsibilities must be left to the spouses themselves, who do not need top-down guidelines to do so.

We demand an extension of parental leave while maintaining the current model that allows both parents to take parental leave according to their decision at home, not in Brussels.

We also call for an end to the image of women as helpless victims of the family system, worldview, or traditional social roles, and men as ruthless oppressors. We disagree with the gender paradigm underlying the proposed solutions

Sign the petition to Helena Dalli, the EU Commissioner for Equality

Let the families choose their optimal work-life balance!