>Millions of women throughout Europe will be entitled to longer and better paid maternity leave under proposals unveiled on October 3 2008 by the European Commission.
>There is a direct link between childcare provision and access for parents to paid employment. Across the EU, more than 6 million women aged 25-49 say they are forced into not working, or can only work part-time, because of their family responsibilities. For more than a quarter of them, lack of childcare facilities – or their cost – is the main problem. Access to good quality, affordable childcare operating at hours to suit parents and children is thus key to facilitating women's access to the labour market.Allowing parents to work can also help avoid in-work poverty and reduce poverty in single-parent households, which suffer a much higher poverty rate (32%) than that for all households with a child (17%).
>The Recommendation is based around three key aspects: adequate income support, inclusive labour markets and access to quality services. National governments will be encouraged to refer to these common principles and define policies for 'active inclusion' on this basis so as to step up the fight against exclusion from society and from the labour market.
To make minimum income schemes more effective and to support national efforts to fight poverty, the Commission is putting forward a Recommendation on 'active inclusion'. It aims to reintegrate into the labour market all those who can work while providing the necessary resources to live a dignified life to those who cannot.