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Fathers [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for fathers.

When fathers take leave to look after their children, the whole family benefits. Research shows there is a link between the amount of days’ leave fathers take and their satisfaction with their relationship with their child. Increasing fathers’ uptake of child-related leave is also considered beneficial for children’s development and gender equality. Fathers’ involvement in childcare also affects women’s decisions to have children. Despite this, fathers took only 2 % of the leave available to either parent in the EU in 2010. The EU wants to change that and give men more opportunities to get involved in caring for their families.

Silhouette of a happy young child smiling as he runs to greet his father with a hug at sunset on a summer day.

© Christin Lola / Fotolia

Thanks to EU law, mothers and fathers in all EU countries have the right to at least four months of parental leave each. In principle, this leave period can be taken by either parent, except for one month, which is non-transferable, to encourage fathers to take up more parental leave. The EU also offers protection from discrimination on the grounds of taking parental leave, which is especially relevant for fathers who wish to spend more time with their family, but are worried about possible negative consequences for their career. EU law guarantees job protection during and after such leave, which means that fathers are entitled to return to the same or equivalent job.

The EU is working on improving the current situation. It is considering the introduction of paternity leave and four months of non-transferable leave, both paid at least at the level of sick pay.

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