vrijdag 15 oktober 2010

ouderschaps-verlof URGENT ACTION

Wilt u ook Europees gezien meer ruimte in Ouderschapsverlof?
Lees dan de oproep hieronder van EWL, de Europese Vrouwen Lobby:


Please contact your members of the European Parliament before Wednesday 20.10.2010
Merci de contacter vos membres du Parlement européen avant le 20.10.2010

Dear EWL members and friends,

The European Parliament will vote on the revision of the European maternity leave directive on 20.10.2010. A good proposal – the Estrela/ FEMM Committee Report- is on the table, but we need to mobilize more members of the European Parliament, in particular in the EPP (Christian Democrat) and ALDE (liberals) group in order to secure a majority for this report. You will find enclosed a model letter that we very much hope you can sign and send to your members of the European Parliament.

The main points of the letter are:
1. Full Pay provision during maternity leave (Amendments 40 and 64).
2. Duration: granting maternity leave of 20 weeks (Amendment 38)
3. Enhanced protection against discrimination for women returning to work (Amendment 52)
4. Paid paternity leave of at least 2 weeks (Amendment 50)

You can find the individual email addresses of members of the European Parliament using different criteria (country, political group..) on:

This is a unique opportunity to influence European policy and ensure progress for women’s rights across Europe, please take a few minutes to send the letter!

Thanks a lot for your action!
The European Women’s Lobby

Hieronder de brief, die u kunt kopiëren, van de juiste gegevens voorzien en aan uw vertegenwoordiger sturen.
Haast is geboden: 20 oktober is de behandeling.

October 2010

RE: European Parliament Vote on the Maternity Leave Directive 20 October 2010

Dear ... name of MEP

I write to you in support of the European Women’s Lobby’s campaign to ensure adequate maternity leave provisions for all women in Europe. In view of the e EP plenary vote on revision of the European Union’s maternity leave Directive on 20.1.2010, I wish to make a final appeal for the goals of the European Women’s Lobby and the interests of women across Europe.

In a time of growing economic uncertainty and while we are facing demographic changes that Europe cannot ignore, it is vital that the European Institutions protect and strengthen the rights of pregnant workers, those who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding.

I therefore consider the following issues to be at the core of the reformed maternity leave directive that will be adopted by the European Parliament on 20 October in Strasbourg (Reference to in the Draft European Parliament Legislative Resolution):

1. Full Pay (Amendments 40 and 64): The full pay provision is the cornerstone of this directive. Ensuring that women are paid their full salary, free from ceilings or other restrictions, for the entire duration of their maternity leave, is the only way forward to provide women who have recently given birth with substantive equality and to ensure that they are not penalised. The issue of pay during maternity leave cannot be dissociated from the broader issue of the gender pay gap as reductions in pay during maternity leave (specific to women) contributes significantly to substantive gender inequality throughout the life cycle. In terms of costs (see also in the annex to this document), in most member states (apart from three), employers do not pay wages during maternity leave; indeed, social security systems do. While a worker is on maternity leave, employers save the cost of her salary, and can use that money to hire a replacement.

2. Duration (Amendment 38): granting maternity leave of 20 weeks comes closer to giving women the choice of following World Health Organisation and ILO recommendations on breastfeeding, and more generally empowers women to take as much time to recuperate as they choose to after giving birth, and does not curtail their chances on the labour market, indeed, the OECD found in 2006 that in countries where the maternity leaves are the longest, female employment rates were highest with over 80% in Iceland and over 70% in Denmark and Sweden -well above the OECD average of 57% .

3. Protection against Discrimination (Amendment 52): Protecting the rights of new mothers when they return to work should be at the centre of any new European legislation. The language in the proposal does this quite effectively, for instance by strengthening the rights of breastfeeding mothers, and protecting women from working night shifts, overtime, and from dismissal. This is as a central point of the new legislation, and an important step towards creating a working environment across Europe that takes the life-cycles and needs of women seriously.

4. Paid paternity leave (Amendment 50): The equal share of child care work between women and men is one of the conditions to realise gender equality and legal provisions for fully paid paternity leave of at least two weeks are one of the basic measures towards this goal.

The European Women’s Lobby considers any legislative discussion on improving the working conditions of women as part of a broader debate on how Europe can make equality between women and men a reality. The steps taken in this Directive are essential to ensure that women across Europe become part of a labour market that takes their life choices seriously, rather than marginalising when they have children, to contribute to a more equal share of family responsibilities between women and men, and ultimately to the goal of a more equal society.

Please find below in Annex additional information and arguments about the Common Myths on the Costs of Maternity Leave.
I, along with millions of Europeans, trust that we can count on your full support and good judgement in this matter.

Yours respectfully,
...Your signature and name

Seven Common Myths about the Costs of Maternity Leave
The EWL invites policy makers to join European mothers in the real world!

MYTH ONE: “We cannot afford full-paid maternity leave, which would disproportionately affect small businesses and drive up wage costs, leading to more jobs being outsourced.”

FACT: Only in three European countries – the UK, Germany and Malta – is maternity leave financed directly through employers rather than tax or social welfare systems, and two of these countries – Germany and the UK – have a recuperation scheme, which applies to both SMEs and large corporations. Incidentally, these are also countries notorious for their high gender pay gaps and low female employment rates compared to their European peers.

FACT: In all other EU member states, employers do not pay wages during maternity leave; social security systems do. While a worker is on maternity leave, employers save the cost of her salary, and can use that money to hire a replacement. This is as it should be: just as we collectively pay for caring for our seniors or building our schools, we should share the costs of maternity leave.

FACT: When women are excluded from the job market, economies take a downturn; when women are further included, economies prosper. According to the European Commission, all EU member states could achieve double-digit economic growth as high as 35% in the UK, 40% in the Netherlands and 45% in Malta, by eliminating gender inequalities in the labour market.

MYTH TWO: “Implementing this Directive, particularly the full-pay provision, in the current economic crisis is irresponsible and will worsen the current recession.”

FACT: The tendency to put profit over people and short-term cost-cutting over long-term growth is what got us into the current economic crisis in the first place. Women have contributed more to global economic growth than the emerging economies of China and India and will continue to be invaluable as male-dominated sectors like the automobile industry and construction take hits and the importance of services and care increases. Ensuring women are included and protected on the job market will reinvigorate the European economy and reap long-term benefits for economies and birth rates.

FACT: European governments spent trillions of euros in the last two years rescuing banks, car and construction companies; the rescue scheme for UK banks alone cost taxpayers up to £850 billion. This is exactly the right time to invest a comparably low amount of money to empower half of the current population – not to mention the next generation.

FACT: Pervading glass ceilings in corporate Europe are a real problem, and nowhere more than in the financial sector. The EWL joins many experts in the conviction that a greater presence of women in financial decision making might have prevented the spin towards reckless, short-term profit-oriented banking that ultimately led to the current crisis.

MYTH THREE: “The costs of thisDDirective would cost British businesses a further £2b!”

FACT: According to the British Equality and Human Rights Commission, the cost estimate of 20 weeks of full paid maternity leave would, in fact, only amount to £1.3 billion. Additionally, this cost estimate is for the British government, not employers, as the employer in the UK is reimbursed by the state for the benefits paid to workers on maternity leave.

FACT: Maternity leave in the UK currently is drastically underfinanced: mothers receive a laughable – £123/month puts them below the relative poverty line – but comparatively long (up to a year) leave allowance. This is not cost-effective for employers and frustrating for employees: the longer an employee is absent from her work, the more it will cost employers to replace her during her absence and re-train her once she returns. A German study shows that prolonged absence from work can cost employers between €2,000 and €12,000 per employee.

FACT: The additional £1.3bn the implementation of this Directive would cost the UK would by no means be a large budget item. In fact, the UK currently spends six times that amount every year on the aftermaths of both smoking and obesity, and three times that amount on the effects of domestic violence, not to mention the trillions of pounds spent in the aftermath of the financial crisis to stabilise London banks.

MYTH FOUR: “Long, mandatory maternity leave keeps women out of the job market and does more harm than good.”

FACT: A Canadian study shows that high maternity leave payments in the 20 weeks after birth are a strong incentive for women to return to their previous jobs after maternity leave. Employers would actually benefit from this new Directive, because the female employees in whose training they have invested time and money would return from their maternity leave more quickly, ready to resume their old positions.

FACT: The provisions in this Directive would certainly not force women to stay at home should they want to return to work before the six weeks of mandatory leave have passed. The mandatory leave time simply assures that all European women have a chance to recuperate from the emotional upheaval and physical stress of giving birth before reentering the labour market.

FACT: The current draft of the reform Directive does not only provide for full pay, but also for strong legal protections, precisely to combat the kind of discrimination that still marginalises some women for having children.

MYTH FIVE: “Parental leave is just as good as maternity leave. Countries that provide some remunerated parental leave scheme are doing more than enough for mothers, fathers and families.”
FACT: Parental leave is an important tool for reconciliation, but it does not address the basic reality that women are biologically responsible for giving birth. While both generous parental leave provisions and the paternity leave clause in the current draft of this Directive are welcome measures, the two schemes are fundamentally different and should not be confused.

FACT: The reason many support parental leave is not just that it is an effective policy, but also because it is cheaper. Parental leave payments in Europe average at around €500 a month, much less than full pay for most workers, and some countries do not have any formal paid parental leave schemes.

MYTH SIX: “Being on maternity or paternity leave is like being on extended sick leave or a long vacation, and nobody expects employers to finance that.”

FACT: As the Commission points out in its Europe 2020 Strategy, Europe’s working population is shrinking while the share of retired people is growing twice as fast as it did before 2007. Europe will not have a sustainable workforce for long unless someone is giving birth to the next generation of scientists, teachers, voters and taxpayers, and claiming that women on maternity leave are essentially “inactive” or “not contributing” to societies undermines the fundamental sustainability of our workforce and of Europe as a whole.
FACT: Giving birth puts most women under serious hormonal, physical and emotional strain, and the first few weeks of newborns’ lives are invaluable in their development of trust, sensory-cognitive skills and a bond with both their parents. Policy makers should take care not to minimise or ridicule the strain and the rewards a new infant brings.

MYTH SEVEN: “China, India and other economic powerhouses don’t provide fully paid maternity leave; this will harm our competitiveness.”

FACT: Chinese manufacturing workers earn between $100 and $400 a month, and in India, 42% of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day. Europe will never meet these standards, and should stop trying to do so: the European welfare system and measures like this Directive that empower workers are a value, not a burden, in the global market.

Word lid van Vrouwenbelangen als je, met ons, vindt dat Gelijk Staatsburgerschap voor vrouwen in Nederland nog niet bereikt is. Kijk voor meer informatie op http://www.vrouwenbelangen.nl/vereniging/index.htm

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