PN MEP David Casa called on the government to carry the financial burden of an EU directive that would be increasing paternity leave to 10 days.
The proposed Work-Life Balance directive, led and negotiated by Mr Casa himself, was given the green light by the Council of Ministers earlier this month, taking it one step closer to becoming EU law.
The directive would introduce 10 days of paternity leave remunerated at not less than the national sick pay level, and introduce two months of paid leave for each parent that can be used until the child is eight years old. By Maltese law, mothers can benefit from up to 18 weeks leave, however fathers only enjoy a single day of birth leave.
It would also see a five day annual carer’s leave for workers to care for sick relatives and the right for employees to request flexible working arrangements. Speaking at a public debate at Europe House in Valletta, Dr Casa noted that the requirements laid down by the directive were minimum benchmarks for all member states.
It was also up to member states to decide who was going to financially cover these rights. “I believe this is a social benefit and I urge the government to carry its financial burden,” he said.
Addressing the same debate, Anna Borg, from the Centre for Labour Studies insisted that now was the time to walk the talk if we believed in equality.
“Now is the right time, considering that the economy is doing well. We need to be bold and brave and provide a packet that is not cosmetic, but one that makes sense for the employers and society in general.”
In comments to the Times of Malta in January, the Chamber for Small and Medium Enterprises shot down the directive proposal and the Malta Employers’ Association said it resisted any further financial burdens on employers. However, the Association for Equality welcomed the move and said 10 days was “the least fathers should be granted”. The remaining phases for the directive to become law are votes in the European Parliament, first in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs followed by a vote in the plenary, possibly in March.