The Work-life Balance Directive: Update on implementation

19 April 2023 5 min read

By Rachel Chapman

At a glance

  • The Work-life Balance Directive, which aims to improve families’ access to family leave and flexible work arrangements, was due to be implemented by the EU Member States by 2 August, but as with the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive, many countries missed the deadline.

The Work-life Balance Directive introduces a set of legislative actions with the aims of:

  • Better supporting a work-life balance for parents and carers;
  • Encouraging a more equal sharing of parental leave between men and women; and
  • Addressing women’s under-representation in the labour market.

The Directive includes:

  • The introduction of paternity leave: fathers must be able to take at least 10 working days of paternity leave around the time of birth of their child, compensated at least at the level of sick pay.
  • Ensuring that two out of the four months of parental leave are non-transferable between parents and compensated at a level that is determined by the Member State.
  • The introduction of carers’ leave: workers providing personal care or support to a relative will be entitled to five days of leave per year.
  • Extending the right to request flexible working arrangements to carers and working parents of children up to eight years old.

The directive is also accompanied by a set of policy measures that are designed to support Member States in achieving the aims of better work-life balance and more equally distributed caring responsibilities. These include:

  • Encouraging the use of European funds to improve the provision of formal care services;
  • Ensuring protection for parents and carers against discrimination or dismissal; and
  • Removing economic disincentives for second earners within families.

The UK is not required to implement the Directive, but UK law already broadly complies in any event. 

The current status of implementation of the Directive in the EU Member States is as set out below:

Country Status of implementation
Austria Austria already has legislation in place that provides for conditions that are equivalent to, or more generous than, those in the Directive. As such there are only a few regulations which need implementation but as yet there is no draft law.
Belgium CBA 162 entered into force on 1 October 2022 and leaves a lot of space for social dialogue at the company or sector level.
Bulgaria The Directive has been implemented in Bulgarian law by amendment to the Labour Code with effect from 1 August 2022.
Croatia The Directive was implemented through amendments to the Maternal and Benefits Act which entered into force on 1 August 2022, and the new Maternal and Parental benefits Act which entered into force on 1 August 2023. Other changes were implemented through amendments to the Labour Act which entered into force on 1 January 2023.
Cyprus No draft law yet.
Czech Republic The Directive has not yet been transposed in the Czech Republic. Amendments to the Labour Code transposing the Directive are expected in 2023.
Denmark The Danish implementing legislation came into force on 2 August 2022.
Estonia The Directive has been implemented in Estonian law with effect from 1 August 2022.
Finland The Directive has now been implemented by amending several labour and parental laws with effect from 1 August 2022.
France A decree dated 19 May 2021 partially implemented the Directive by changing the provisions of the Labour Code regarding redeployment leave. This decree does not address the other provisions of the Directive. There is no draft law yet.
Germany A draft bill provides for amendments to the Parental Leave Act, the Nursing Leave Act, the Family Leave Act and the General Equal Treatment Act. The draft was handed over to the Federal Council on 5 August 2022, but currently has not been dealt with in the Federal Council. The draft also still needs to pass the German Parliament. Many points of the Directive are already applicable law in Germany.
Greece The Directive was implemented into Greek legislation on 19 June 2021.
Hungary The Hungarian Labour Code has been amended to implement the Directive, effective from 1 January 2023.
Ireland Ireland introduced legislation extending parent's leave which came into effect in July 2022. The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 was signed into Law by the president on 4 April 2023. Various sections of the Act will likely come into effect over the coming months.
Italy The Directive was implemented into Italian law with effect from 13 August 2022.
Latvia The Directive has not been implemented in Latvia yet. Two new draft laws have been prepared and are currently in the process of being adopted to implement the Directive.
Lithuania The Directive has been implemented through various amendments to the Labour Code, including changes to provisions on paternity leave and parental leave. Some changes came in effect 1 August 2022, while the remaining came in effect from 1 January 2023
Luxembourg A draft law transposing the Directive was submitted to the Chamber of Deputies on 2 June 2022. This is the start of the legislative process.
Malta The Directive was implemented in the Malta on Work Life Balance for Parents and Carers Regulations (Subsidiary Legislation 452,108) which entered into force on 2 August 2022.
Netherlands The Directive has been implemented in the Netherlands by the Paid Parental Leave Act, which entered into force on 2 August 2022.
Poland On 9 March 2023, the Sejm accepted some changes made by the Senate and enacted amendments to the Labour Code, implementing the Directive. This has since been signed and published in the Journal of Laws and will come into force on 26 April 2023.
Portugal Amendments to the Portuguese Labour Code under Law 13/2023 transposes the Directive. This will come into force 1 May 2023.
Romania On 29 August 2022, Romanian law on paternity leave was amended by Government Emergency Ordinance No. 117/2022. Further implementing legislation on carer's and emergency leave came into force on 22 October.
Slovakia Law in force 1 November 2022.
Slovenia The Directive has not been implemented yet.
Spain Legislation expected for 2023.
Sweden The legislation implementing the directive came into force on 2 August 2022.