04 Oct The European Chemical Employers Group, ECEG, encourages work-life balance without new legislation
The European Chemical Employers Group, ECEG, encourages work-life balance without new legislation04/10/17
The European Chemical Employers Group, ECEG, encourages work-life balance without new European legislation
Work-life balance should address the challenges of working parents and carers by linking participation in the labour market with flexible arrangements agreed at company-level suitable for workers and employers alike, without neglecting business competitiveness and job creation contributing to a strong European chemical industry.
Companies’ competitiveness is crucial for job creation in Europe. Flexible working arrangements agreed at company or branch level can respond best to workers’ and companies’ needs. Modern working patterns, including flexible working arrangements and digital technologies can optimise the balance between work and private life. It is essential for chemical businesses to adapt swiftly to market demands in times of changes in economic structures and work organisation.
The autonomy of the social dialogue is unnegotiable. By proposing to repeal the current parental leave directive which was produced by cross-industry social partners the European Commission disregards the autonomy of social partners and acts against its own initiative to re-launch the European social dialogue. Cross-industry social partners have already signed agreements on part-time and telework, which leave sufficient space for national and company-level actions. We believe that additional legislation, i.e. extension of leave arrangements and other work arrangements, would put Europe at a further disadvantage compared with global leaders. In particular, the new EC proposal intends to enable parental leave requests for children aged up to 12 years old. As a direct consequence, businesses would have considerable difficulties to organise and forecast potential temporary absences of employees. Compared to the current situation, companies’ planning reliability would become more complicated. Especially SMEs would struggle to implement additional leaves, not to mention the administrative burdens for HR management overall, which could potentially put jobs at risk. Hence, the ECEG does not support the EC’s proposal.
The role of the European legislator is to act as a policy coordinator among member states, as defined in article 5, TFEU, and support and complement national actions via EU non-legislative policy measures. The European Commission must respect the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity. We support subsidiary multilevel governance in Europe. We believe that existing national and regional arrangements, social partner agreements at branch and company-level prove that the most suitable solutions are to be found as close as possible to the needs of employers and workers. For instance, this is the case for national legislation in most member states on paternity leave. Any measures taken on EU-level should be based on clear evidence of the added value of a European approach. We encourage
European policy-makers to focus on non-legislative proposals and aspects, such as awareness-raising and policy learning based on good practices and linked to the Open Method of Coordination. Within the European Semester process, we believe that the EU should encourage member states to increase the availability, affordability and quality of childcare facilities, including adapting opening hours to families’ needs, and welcoming children at all ages.
On 26 April 2017, the European Commission proposed a series of legislative and non-legislative measures within the framework of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Actions relate to work-life balance, the information of workers, access to social protection and working time.
The ECEG responded to both social partner consultations on information of workers (Written Statement Directive, 91/533/EEC) and access to social protection.
Moreover, the ECEG participated at two dedicated hearings with the European Commission and cross-industry social partners BusinessEurope and ETUC to exchange on an Interpretative Communication on the Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC).
European Commission, Delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights:
The European Chemical Employers Group (ECEG) represents the chemical, pharmaceutical, rubber and plastics industries in Europe. As a Brussels-based social affairs organisation it is a recognised social partner and a consultation body of the European Institutions and other stakeholders. With approximately 3.3 million direct employees in more than 94.000 enterprises, the sector is one of the biggest and most dynamic industries in the EU.
For more information please contact: Emma Argutyan, Director General, ECEG