On the occasion of International Day of Families, 15 May 2018, Caritas Europa calls on the European Union and its Member States to invest in family friendly policies. Family is the basic unit of society and one of the three main pillars of any fair society, along with an inclusive labour market and social protection mechanisms.
Producing family-friendly policies that benefit all is a necessity for the future of Europe. It is imperative that European leaders start delivering on their commitment to the European Pillar of Social Rights. There is an urgent need to put in place policies that address Europe’s ongoing demographic decline and that tackle the increasing levels of poverty and inequalities. Investing in family is investing in our societies. Strengthening the social dimension of families is beneficial to the well-being of future generations because it contributes to the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Notably goal 1: no poverty, goal 5: equality between women and men, and goal 10: reduced inequalities.
“Investing in families in order to empower them and to promote the social capital they create benefits the entire society. In that sense families clearly contribute to promoting peaceful and inclusive societies. I hope that Member States will budget and implement strong family policies towards reaching the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals”, says Jorge Nuño Mayer, Secretary General, Caritas Europa.
Caritas Europa recommends legislative powers to respect the following family friendly policies:
1. Regarding the right to family life:
-Facilitate work-family life balance and support families by providing monthly child allowance based on a universal approach to child benefits. Families with a low income should receive an increased amount of such an allowance;
-Ensure sufficient and affordable child care facilities; and
-Put in place family counselling services.
2. Regarding enabling, supporting and recognising the value of family care work:
-Ensure the legal right to maternity leave of at least 15 weeks and parental leave of at least 6 months;
-Allow a number of days per year of special leave for care work in the family – for children, elderly, the ill, etc.;
-Ensure a minimum income during longer periods of leave for care work; and
-Consider the time spent on care work as eligible for the calculation of pension rights.
“A person who is taking care of a relative with a disability can’t sustain a full-time job. People share that employers are unwilling to employ them because of such an engagement or offer them much lower salaries than usual for a given job”, says Caritas Sofia staff member, Bulgaria.