Families, Care-giving and Paid Work
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Families, Care-giving and Paid Work

Challenging Labour Law in the 21st Century

Edited by Nicole Busby and Grace James

This unique selection of chapters brings together researchers from a variety of academic disciplines to explore aspects of law’s engagement with working families. It connects academic debate with policy proposals through an integrated set of approaches and perspectives.
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Chapter 3: Is There a Fundamental Right to Reconcile Work and Family Life in the EU?

Eugenia Caracciolo di Torella


Eugenia Caracciolo di Torella INTRODUCTION With considerable oversimplification, across Europe the last two decades have been characterized by profound changes in the organization and structure of society. In particular, the decline of the traditional form of family (Hantrais 2004), the increasing ageing population (inter alia, EU Commission 2005 and EU Parliament 2010) and the growing participation of women in the labour market (Scott et al. 2008) have meant that ‘the requirements for care can no longer be resolved via the domestication of women’, and that ‘societies will have to seek new solutions’ (Crompton 2006: 60–61). As a response, measures aiming at reconciling work and family life (reconciliation measures) have gradually been introduced. At EU level this was already acknowledged in the 1974 Social Action Programme which aimed ‘to ensure that the family responsibilities of all concerned may be reconciled with their job aspirations [emphasis added]’. Since this first timid step to place the issue on the agenda, these measures have developed into a sophisticated web of both binding and soft law measures, which culminated in Article 33 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights ([2000] OJ C 364/1), now incorporated into the Treaty of Lisbon, that establishes an explicit right to reconcile work and family life. The contribution of the social partners1 as well as the ongoing dialogue between the Court of Justice (CoJ) and the national courts, has proven invaluable for the development of this area. Thus, in theory, it is now possible to speak of...

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