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Families on the edge - Building a comprehensive European work-life balance reality

Europe is living a number of deep transformations, which have been systematically avoided until now. Demography and the ageing population, youth unemployment and skills mismatch, waste of the professional potential of women and a labour market that seems to be more interested in preserving the status quo, trying to fit contemporary society into an old mould instead of having the courage of rethinking itself, promoting a renewed pact based on protection, rights and trust.

COFACE Families Europe believes it is time to move forward and, as it happened with the green economy, to start thinking in terms of a “reconciliation economy” where economic actors are measured also on the social impact they have in their community. Moreover, there is a clear link between reconciliation policies and
poverty: the more we allow families to reconcile, the less workers will drop out of the labour market and the less families will be at risk of poverty because of a reduced available income.

On the policy side and in line with this vision, reconciliation policies should not be seen as benefits for young parents but a right for everyone, a review and improvement of the working environment in order to improve the working conditions and well-being of all employees and workers, as well as a contribution to the productivity of the company.

To realise this, we need a holistic and coherent European Package

The key principles on which this vision is based are the following:

• Reconciliation measures as a safety net for all families, regardless of the ethnicity, migrant background, disability or socio-economic status of its members
• Involvement of men and fathers: reconciliation aims at gender equality but it is not a women’s issue only
• Life course perspective: reconciliation legislation and policy has to respond to the needs of all generations