The EU protects pregnant workers and new parents through a range of directives which regulate working time, maternity and parental leave, employment rights and discrimination. See more information in the graphic below.

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All EU countries must ensure that the following rules are in place:
  • Male and female workers have individual entitlement to parental leave on the grounds of the birth or adoption of a child, enabling them to take care of the child for at least four months 
  • Workers are protected from discrimination on the grounds of applying for/taking parental leave 
  • When returning from parental leave, workers must have the right to return to the same job or to an equivalent/similar job 
  • They also have the right to request changes to their working hours for a set period 
  • Women may not be obliged to perform night work during their pregnancy and following childbirth 
  • Women are entitled to maternity leave for an uninterrupted period of at least 14 weeks before and/or after delivery 
  • Pregnant workers may take time off work without loss of pay to attend ante-natal examinations 
  • Women may not be dismissed for reasons related to their condition from the beginning of their pregnancy to the end of their maternity leave 
  • The continuity of employment rights relating to the employment contract must be ensured

Find out more.