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iEPSCO: EU ministers discuss measures of work-life balance

EU ministers discussed measures of work-life balance today, 19 July, in the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel) (photo: Annika Haas/EU2017EE)
EU ministers discussed measures of work-life balance today, 19 July, in the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel) (photo: Annika Haas/EU2017EE)

Under the aegis of the Estonian Presidency, EU social protection and labour ministers will be exchanging views and best practices at the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel) regarding how member states can support people in finding ways to balance work and private life. 

On 19 July, the discussions focused on finding solutions that could give people better opportunities for starting a family and taking care of relatives while also being active in the labour market. Tomorrow, 20 July, the ministers will discuss men’s role in care responsibilities.

“On the one hand, people expect to receive flexible solutions in order to organise their time between work and family. On the other hand, of course, employers are mostly interested in earning a profit,” said Minister for Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski. “People usually prefer to work for an employer who offers them better solutions for reconciling work, family, and private life. In addition, this will make the employer more attractive to people looking for a job as well.”

Ministers exchanged views and best practices and explained the different measures taken in order to face the challenges that come with the new forms of living and working. Modern work-life balance measures require a harmony between the needs of the employees and the capacity of the employers.

“Our current work-life balance measures mainly address classical family types and working models, and usually women are the ones to carry the care burden. We need men to take a bigger role in domestic and family related responsibilities if we wish to not let the potential of our highly educated women go to waste,” said Minister for Social Protection Kaia Iva. “Europe has a lot to gain – financially and in terms of people’s well-being – from a more equal sharing of care responsibilities.”

A more equal sharing of the care burden would give women better opportunities to work. In addition, this would help to minimise the gender gap in employment, pay, and pension. The economic loss due to the gender employment gap amounts to EUR 370 billion per year.

Furthermore, Estonia, and the holders of the two next Presidencies, Bulgaria and Austria, signed a trio declaration today, which outlines how these three member states will promote gender equality in Europe for the next 18 months. Read the full text of the declaration (PDF, 4.87 MB).

On 19-20 July, the informal meeting of ministers for employment, social affairs, family and gender equality will take place in the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel). The meeting is hosted by the Estonian Minister for Social Protection Kaia Iva and the Estonian Minister for Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski.