2nd shift – REST/PRIVACY


The principles of offer and demand rule the economy and dictate the production tendencies. In the last century, the role of children within societies changed a lot and nowadays a great portion of industries is devoted to addressing children’s needs. Can you name some examples of these changes?

64. Toys production in the biggest plastic factory on the Balkan peninsula. Ca. 1980, Period of State Socialism. Interactive Museum of Industry, Gabrovo, Bulgaria.


Family is a key concept of our society, but they are very different, and they are not necessarily based on bloodlines. What characterises a family? Does this image portray a family?

65. Consecration of the cotton mill “Knyaz Simeon Tarnovski”, September 1, 1937. Interactive Museum of Industry, Gabrovo, Bulgaria.

Nowadays, there are different family benefits available for workers. These instruments protect them from being dismissed or impoverished if, for any reason, they need to take care of their children or any of their dependents. The idea behind all these instruments is primarily to allow workers to balance their family and professional lives.

Additionally, within the agenda of the EU, the implementation of family benefits is also guided by gender equality policies. It is important to keep in mind that work life balance and gender equality are fundamental rights within the EU legal framework.

If we look at the historical evolution of family protection, the first instrument adopted was the so-called maternity pay leave, and it was directly linked with the participation of women in industry during WWII and centred on maternal and newborn health. This leave was to be taken just before, during, and immediately after birth. Although historically it was available to mothers only, currently, it is possible that part of it can be transferred to other carers, reflecting the concerns with gender equality.

The same concern led to the adoption of paternity leave and parental leave. The paternity leave is generally available for fathers only, to be taken soon after the child’s birth to support the family welcoming the newborn. On the other hand, parental leave is accessible to both mother and father, intended to allow parents to take care of a young child immediately after the termination of the maternity leave.

More recently, the recognition of the effects of an ageing population by the EU led to the introduction of carers’ leave. This type of leave allows the worker to provide care to a relative or person living in the same household that needs significant support due to serious medical reasons.

All these instruments, along with protection from dismissal based on parental responsibilities, aim to allow workers to engage in employment without being subject to discrimination related to a perceived conflict between their work and their family responsibilities. However, in practice, the way in which they are designed and implemented in the different countries has a substantial impact on the family benefits policy.

Despite the efforts towards gender equality, men still tend not to take full advantage of these instruments. Some of the reasons for that are based on gender perceptions and gender gaps, i.e. care responsibilities continue to be seen primarily as women’s tasks and, as women generally are paid lower wages than men, the common choice remains that women continue to ensure this support.