Aurore Bergé: the minister at the heart of a controversy over parental leave

Aurore Bergé, new Minister of Solidarity and the Family has considered a possible shortening of parental leave in return for better pay.

Aurore Bergé: the minister at the heart of a controversy over parental leave

Aurore Bergé, new Minister of Solidarity and the Family has considered a possible shortening of parental leave in return for better pay. The hypothesis seems to open a heated debate with the left.

Aurore Bergé is still making her mark as the Ministry of Solidarity and the Family and her entry into the subject has been noticed. The new member of the government is already at work and sketched out the outlines of her roadmap in an interview with Ouest-France on July 25, 2023. Some statements by the minister did not go unnoticed, but one eclipsed all others concerning the salary increase for early childhood professions or even the payment of social benefits at source: the possible planing of parental leave.

"Why not think together about shorter but better compensated parental leave to give families a real choice?" suggested Aurore Bergé. The minister sees this as a possible improvement to a "doubly unsatisfactory" device. First "too many mothers and fathers give up parental leave because it is too poorly compensated" estimated the minister, referring to the monthly allowances set at 429 euros. Another argument of the elected representative of Yvelines: "too many women take long parental leave because they have no solution to have their child looked after" more than out of a desire to stay away from the labor market for so long.

The minister's proposal raised eyebrows on the left. A rain of criticism fell on the chosen one via the networks. "We pay you more to spend less time with your child! How about it?" asked not without derision the president of the socialist deputies Boris Vallaud in a message posted on X. "Superb start of Aurore Bergé, who manages in just 5 days to break the vocation of her Ministry of Solidarity and Families", launched for his part the rebellious deputy from the North, David Guiraud.

The elected environmentalists do not think less since shortening parental leave even in return for better remuneration would be a "massacre of the social system" according to the environmental deputy Sandrine Rousseau. The reaction of Senator Mélanie Vogel, since deleted from the same social network, was however intended to be more serious, indicating a desire to modify parental leave, but with a completely different objective: "The emergency on parental leave is to make it egalitarian. Compulsory paid leave of equal time for both parents." Aurore Bergé responded to the two elected officials through AFP attacking their vision of feminism: "How would it be favorable to the right of women to be out of the labor market for two years with 400 euros per month ?"

Another point of view with that of the rebellious deputy Aymeric Caron who thinks "precisely the opposite" of Aurore Bergé. According to him, the leave should not be shortened but "allow parents [...] to raise their child on a daily basis for the first few years, without having to entrust him to a crèche". However, the two policies agree on the need to better compensate parental leave.

The Minister and faithful of the Macronie has the figures on her side since according to a study by the French Observatory of Economic Conditions (OFCE) published in 2021, less than 1% of fathers take full-time parental leave, compared to 14% mothers. Rates lower than the objectives set during the passage of the 2015 reform.

Aurore Bergé stressed her desire to "meet the needs of parents" and if a few announcements punctuated the interview, no policy or concrete proposal was specified concerning the future of parental leave. Just an idea added to the debate. Faced with the reactions of certain left-wing elected officials, my Minister of Solidarity and the Family had no choice but to clarify with AFP in the evening: "I do not provide an immediate response, but we must open this debate collectively, with parents, all those who work with young children, and family associations". Aurore Bergé, however, took the opportunity to slip an announcement concerning the strengthening of the public service for early childhood by promising "200,000 additional crèche places by 2030".

In wanting to take charge of the parental leave file, Aurore Bergé is stepping onto delicate ground. His predecessor Jean-Christophe Combe and the former Minister in charge of Early Childhood Adrien Taquet had already rubbed shoulders with the possible shortening of parental leave remembers the Huffpost. Debates that had finally been left aside.