Reconciling Work and Family Life

Irish Congress of Trade Unions initial assessment of the EU Commission package on work-life balance

Read our submission here

[1] Documents of reference: (a) Proposal for a Directive on Work-Life Balance for Parents and Carers; (b)Annex to the Work-Life Balance Proposal; (c) Commission statement accompanying the Commission Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on work-life balance for parents and carers; (d) Communication: An initiative to support Work-Life Balance for Working Parents and Carers; (e) Impact assessment accompanying the work-life balance proposal (2017); (f) Executive summary of the impact assessment on work-life balance. Available at:

How do our leave arrangements compare with other countries?

Read more here

Cautious welcome for paid parental leave scheme proposed in Report of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Future Investment in Early Years and School Age Care and Education Services

Commenting on the launch of the Report of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Future Investment in Early Years and School Age Care and Education Services by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr James Reilly today, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Start Strong and the National Women’s Council welcome the recommended progress in relation to family leaves.

Ireland lags behind Europe on Family Leave and compares poorly to other European countries on issues such as maternity leave, paternity leave and work life balance policies. We therefore welcome the proposal to introduce a paid parental leave scheme for parents of children aged under one.

If implemented, this proposal has the potential to greatly enhance parental choice to remain as the primary care-giver of their child in the first year of life – something all the evidence shows is of great benefit to the child.

It also contains the very welcome first ever proposal to provide paid leave to fathers seeking to reconcile their work and caring responsibilities.

However, the proposal to “prepare a feasibility report for Government on the introduction of additional shared weeks of paid parental leave over a 10 year period” is an unnecessary delay in our view and will simply consign another generation of families to the unsustainable challenges currently faced in reconciling work and family life. Such a delay will be bad for children, working parents and, as all the evidence points to the business benefits of work life balance arrangements, the enterprises they work in.

We also welcome the proposal to consider the introduction of statutory entitlements to request more flexible patterns of working for parents of children aged 1-12 years.

For more on our joint proposals on Family Leaves see:

Family Leaves Seminar 2014

FL graphicCongress is pleased to be working with the National Women's Council and Start Strong on the upcoming Family Leaves Bill. A seminar on 25 September 2014 is to start the debate and hear different perspectives on what changes we could make to help improve reconciliation of work and family life. Press release and presentations available for seminar here. An infographic on family leaves was produced for the seminar - available here.

Employers’ Forum for Work Life Balance #EEFWLB on September 8-9 (2014) in Helsinki

Congress attended the COFACE (Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union), in collaboration with its Finnish member Väestöliitto, (The Family Federation of Finland) organised Employers’ Forum for Work Life Balance #EEFWLB on September 8-9 in Helsinki. The Forum was a great opportunity to foster exchange between employers from the private, public and third sectors, experts and representatives of social partners, scientists and researchers to discuss family friendly workplace measures. Among the many issues discussed it clearly emerged that flexible working arrangements are proven to be beneficial for the employee and for the company as it increases commitment and reduce turn-over. It should not serve only working parents or workers with care responsibilities but should be designed and made available to all workers, regardless of their gender or family status. A detailed report will be soon available on this page, where you can also access all the presentations.

Work Life Balance

Work Life Balance consists of the implementation of working arrangements and policies which assist workers in combining employment with other aspects of their lives. Congress was part of the Framework Committee of the Department of Enterprise Trade and Innovation, which has since been disbanded. Some of the work is now contained on the Department's website and info on non-statutory arrangements here

Research on leave practices and options available to union members

Congress has been committed to a detailed review of the effectiveness of leave schemes for sometime. Very limited up-to-date research has been carried out in Ireland regarding the uptake and availability of leave options (including parental leave), flexible work arrangements and life long learning options from the perspective of union members. In order to counter this lack of data and to inform our participation in the promised review of the various leave schemes in the Republic of Ireland, we commissioned a questionnaire survey of union members to find out more about workers' experiences and aspirations regarding flexible working arrangements and leave options. This survey was carried out by Nexus Research with the support of ICTU's Equality Committee and member unions. This report represents the outcome of this research. A significant challenge currently facing workplaces relates to how to keep people in their current employment. In this context, the focus of the research is on how the availability and use of flexible work arrangements and leave options has allowed employees to maintain their employability and career progression in a way that would otherwise not be possible.

This research was funded through the Workplace Innovation Fund, which was designed to help improve productivity and performance through greater levels of employee involvement and engagement. It was managed by Enterprise Ireland.

The market cannot deliver...

While Congress commends the good work done by the National Framework Committee and acknowledge those workplaces with policies that facilitate greater choice and flexibility, unfortunately they remain in the minority. Read on

"Go for it Dads" Belgian campaign

The Belgian pressure group Femmes Prévoyantes Socialistes (FPS) has launched a campaign to encourage fathers to take more parental leave. Belgium has relatively generous allocations of paternal and parental leave, but fathers are still not using as much of their entitlements as they could.

Congress Toolkit

See copy of our Family Friendly toolkit and training manual

Work Life balance in the current crisis

A presentation by Paul Cullen, Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment and Chair of the National Framework Committee on Worklife Balance.

Eurofound on Work life Balance

Read more here about comparative situation across the EU.