Minimum requirements for gender equality in the labor market: EU Directive entails further employer obligations

  • 07/15/2022
  • Reading time 4 Minutes

It has been less than a month that the amendments to the Documentation Act were passed on June 23, 2022, thus imposing additional obligations on all employers due to EU requirements, and the next amendment is already on the horizon – this time it is about work-life balance for parents and carers and equal opportunities in the labor market.

Also read: Law on the documentation of conditions governing an employment relationship: EU Working Conditions Directive transposed into national law ›› and Amendment on the German Law on Documenting Essential Applicable Conditions for Employment Relationship ››

What is behind this amendment?

According to the EU Directive on work-life balance for parents and carers dated June 20, 2019 (OJ L 188 of July 12, 2019, page 79), the member states are obliged to implement minimum requirements in order to achieve gender equality as regards men’s and women’s opportunities in the labor market and their treatment in the workplace. The Directive must be transposed into national law by August 2, 2022 – thus, it is high time for the legislator.

The Directive establishes individual rights leading to a better work-(family)life balance. A major part of the Directive does not require further legal implementation as it is already consistent with applicable German law (for example, in the German Parental Leave and Parental Allowance Act).

Nevertheless, it requires some adjustments which are contained in the federal government’s draft bill on the further implementation of Directive (EU) 2019/1158. The bill has already been approved by the Federal Cabinet; it is now going to enter the legislative process. It is not yet clear when the law will be passed by the Bundestag; it is likely that this will be before the parliamentary summer recess due to the deadline for implementation.

The draft bill provides for the following amendments:

  1. Employers not complying with a parent’s request to reduce or distribute working hours during parental leave are now obliged to justify their decision. This is supposed to make the reasons that led to the rejection of the request transparent for the parents concerned.
  2. Employers in small businesses will be required to respond to employees requesting the conclusion of an agreement on a leave of absence under the German Nursing Care Leave Act or the German Family Care Leave Act within a period of four weeks from receipt of the request. In the event of a refusal, reasons must be given.
  3. For employees in small companies who agree with their employer on a leave of absence in accordance with the Nursing Care Leave Act or the Family Care Leave Act, the draft stipulates that they can end the leave of absence prematurely if the close relative is no longer in need of care or if the care of the relative at home is impossible or unreasonable. Protection against dismissal is introduced for the duration of the agreed leave of absence.

The intended amendments and tightened regulations of Art. 15 German Parental Leave and Parental Allowance Act, Art. 3 and 4 Nursing Care Leave Act as well as Art. 2a and 3 of the Family Care Leave Act will result, in particular in small businesses with generally less than 15 employees, in a not inconsiderable amount of additional bureaucracy. 

Employers are well advised to bear in mind these further labor law amendments – despite the vacation season. 
We will keep you updated on the legislative process and the new law’s final content. 

Register now for our online seminar (in German) on July 21, 2022 on the topic of “Documentation Act: What other obligations must be implemented by August 1, 2022?”. 

Please feel free to register right here ››

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