EUFAMI welcomes commitments enshrined in EU’s Social Pillar
The European Commission recently made public the EU Social Pillar of Rights in the form of a Recommendation listing 20 key principles which should drive the EU’s social policy agenda in the future. The Social Pillar aims to strengthen the common market by stimulating upward convergence between the social and welfare systems of the Member States.
EUFAMI took part in the consultations leading up to this action and is pleased to see that the concerns of carers continue to be recognized across a number of key areas. We particularly welcome the proposed inclusion of carers’ leave and flexible working arrangements in the “New Start to support work-life balance for parents and carers” – the first legislative initiative taken by the Commission to implement the social pillar of rights.
Our Caring4Carers survey showed that caregivers of a loved one experiencing severe mental ill health are predominantly female (80%) and spend, on average, 22 hours a week in caregiving activities – the equivalent of a part-time job. This creates additional hurdles for them to participate in the labour market, as it puts a hard limit on the degree of involvement. Allowing workers to request flexible working arrangements to care for “seriously ill or dependent relatives”, enables them to retain social protection entitlements and to continue to build their pensions, providing more financial security to the caregiver, and in many case also the person being cared for.
Carers who are in a position to combine work and care report a better quality of life and higher self-esteem than those who do not (2015 Eurofound) and as the proposed policies are all targeted to facilitating that combination, EUFAMI very much welcomes every step taken in that direction. That said, caring for a family member is also a valid choice – a positive experience for most with a majority in the C4C survey reporting closer ties with the family member they cared for and saying they had discovered inner strength. Much more could be done to recognize the significant (economic) contribution informal carers contribute to society and to recognize their status.
Moreover, for our constituency, mental health friendly workplaces are key to making the combination of working and caring for someone with mental ill health work and the ambition to make every workplace mental health friendly should guide any future legislation on health and safety at work.
EUFAMI will continue to advocate for these views, while monitoring any future initiatives related to the Social Pillar. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have regarding the activities.