EU Work–Family Policies—Challenging Parental Roles or Reinforcing Gendered Stereotypes?



Shared parenting is premised on both working parents having the right to care. However, the work–family conflict at the EU level has traditionally focused on working mothers. This was reinforced in Hofmann v Barmer Ersatzkasse [1986] 1 CMLR 242 and Commission v Italy [1984] 3 CMLR 169, and in the enactment and application of the Parental Leave Directive 96/34/EC. In both instances, fathers' role in childcare has been secondary, at best, to that of mothers. The question of shared parenting, and enabling all working parents to care, underpins proposals to amend the Pregnant Workers Directive 92/85/EEC and the revised Parental Leave Directive 2010/18/EU. This article examines the development of EU work–family policies with reference to Fineman's notion of family care, and the right to care for all working parents. It considers whether a more defined role for fathers is beginning to emerge or maternal care is further entrenched.