[Excerpt] The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality of the European Parliament (FEMM) asked Eurofound to conduct a study on national regulations regarding maternity leave against the background of the possible revision of the Maternity Leave Directive (92/85/EEC). Eurofound accepted the FEMM Committee’s request within its ‘Stakeholder enquiry service’ and drew upon recent information provided by its Network of European correspondents.
It is important to note, in this regard, that the scope of the terms used regarding ‘maternity leave’ in national systems is rather different. While some Member States distinguish explicitly between pregnancy leave and maternity leave (exclusively reserved for mothers) and later on between maternity leave and parental leave (which can be shared between both parents), other Member States use one overall term and regulation for leave that can be used by both parents (albeit with certain periods reserved for either parent). In addition, several Member States also have periods of paternity leave, which are exclusively reserved for the father (see Eurofound, 2015).
Against the background of the scope of the Maternity Leave Directive 92/85/EEC, this study is primarily interested in the part of leave which is related to women in employment – in particular, pregnant workers, workers who have recently given birth or workers who are breastfeeding.
In this sense, the report focuses mainly on leave periods around childbirth to be used by the mother. A complete picture, including parental leave provision, can be obtained from the country profiles produced by Eurofound’s European Observatory of Working Life – EurWORK (forthcoming summer 2015).