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Europe May Give New Parents More Time With Their Tots
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The European Union's employment ministers propose tacking on an additional month to the minimum parental leave in the EU's 27 member nations -- from three months to four months per parent.
The European news Web site EurActiv.com reports the proposal would apply to all workers, requiring changes to national laws in England, Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, Romania and Malta.
The Council of Ministers approved the proposal March 8 during a meeting in Brussels. EurActiv.com reports the proposal is designed to encourage more fathers to take parental leave.
Under the proposal, parents will be allowed to take four months off each and transfer months between them to allow one parent to take up to seven months off. At least one month cannot be transferred to the other parent, a move EurActiv.com reports is seen as a boost to gender equality.
Parental leave comes on top of paid maternity leave, which is currently granted for a minimum of 14 weeks.
Before these changes can take effect, they have to be ratified within two years in each of the bloc's 27 nations, the Associated Press reports.
Maternity leave is taken by the mother around the birth or adoption of a child and can vary in the European Union from 14 weeks in Malta to as much as 16 months in Sweden, the wire service reports.
There is no EU law mandating the same benefit for a new father.
Related: Pregnant High Schoolers Ask for Maternity Leave?