European & International News

European Commission refers the Netherlands to the Court for failing to protect parental leave rights

[Brussels, 01 February 2013] Last week, the European Commission refered the Netherlands to the Court of Justice of the European Union for an insufficient protection of new parents when they return to work. Dutch legislation is still not in compliance with the Directive 2006/54/EC of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (recast).

In 2007 and 2009, the European Commission launched the infringement procedure by sending two letters of formal notice to the Netherlands to warn the government on the non-compliance of national legislation with the Directive 2006/54/EC, so-called "Gender Equality Directive".

In 2011, after having received a reasoned opinion from the European Commission, the Dutch government finally changed the Dutch legislation on the protection of the rights of employees on maternity, adoption or parental leave when they return to work.
However, according to the European Commission, those changes are not sufficient and the Netherlands are still not in compliance with the Gender Equality Directive.

Indeed, according to the European Commission’s press release (24 January 2013), "the legislation still does not include specific provisions outlining the conditions under which employees may return to their jobs" and "there is no express provision providing a no less favorable treatment for women returning from maternity leave and for men and women after exercising distinct rights to paternity and adoption leaves".

According to the European legislation, every worker is entitled to a parental leave of minimum four months (Council Directive 2010/18/EU of 8 March 2010 implementing the revised Framework Agreement on parental leave concluded by BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME, CEEP and ETUC and repealing Directive 96/34/EC).
As for the Gender Equality Directive, it protects workers by prohibiting direct and indirect discrimination, and harassment and sexual harassment in employment. It also implements the principle of equal treatment in access to employment and to vocational training.

Read the European Commission’s press release here.

Read more about maternity leave and protection against discrimination at the work place by following EWL’s campaign 2 Years Overdue on the adoption of the revised Pregnant Workers Directive.

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