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Brussels, 30 September 2010

Social affairs: European Commission closes case against Malta on parental leave

The European Commission has today closed legal proceedings against Malta for incorrectly implementing EU rules on parental leave (Directive 96/34/EC). The case was concluded after Malta brought its national law into line with the Directive's requirements following the Commission's infringement action.

The Commission launched infringement proceedings against Malta in March 2007 for incorrect transposition of Directive 96/34/EC. The Directive implements a framework agreement on parental leave concluded by the European trade union and employers' organisations UNICE, CEEP and ETUC.

Malta rectified the problem by adopting a new law. The Commission closed the case after concluding that the new law brings Maltese legislation in line with the Directive.

For more information about the infringement process, see memo/10/457.


Directive 96/34/EC of 3 June 1996 – which gives legal effect to the first social partners' agreement at European level dating from 1995 – provides for the individual right of workers, men and women, to parental leave of at least three months for the birth or adoption of a child. This right should, in principle, be granted on a non-transferable basis, although many Member States have allowed for parental leave entitlements to be transferred from one parent to the other, which in practice has led to mothers taking longer parental leave than fathers.

The Directive also ensures the protection of workers taking parental leave against dismissal, the right to return to the same or an equivalent job and the maintenance of employment rights during parental leave. It lays down the conditions for access and modalities of application of parental leave that can be determined by Member States and/or social partners at national level.

Finally, the Directive provides for the right of workers to take time off from work for urgent family reasons or for sickness or accident. Member States may set a limit for leave per year and/or per case.

Following the review by European social partners of their 1995 agreement (IP/09/948), a new Directive 2010/18/EU was adopted on 8 March 2010. It will replace Directive 96/34/EC. All Member States must transpose the new directive by 8 March 2012.

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