A modern agenda for work–life balance - Webcast available
On 16 October in Brussels, Eurofound held a seminar with the theme ‘A modern agenda for work-life balance – Reconciliation of work and private life’.
Participants at the seminar brought a range of points to the discussion: the far-reaching benefits of better work–life balance; the central importance of life-course perspective and the EU has an important role to play in funding initiatives, making legislative proposals and using its coordination mechanisms.
Key take-away points from the debate clustered around four themes: work–life balance and flexibility; paid and unpaid leave; gender equality; and care.
1. Work-life balance and flexibility
- Predictability and flexibility of work is essential.
- Younger workers have different expectations regarding working time and leave. Small improvements in flexibility can go a long way.
- Giving employees room to find their own solutions around working time can contribute to better work–life balance, especially in sectors such as healthcare.
- Technology can help to create the conditions for a better work-life balance.
- Tax incentives can steer companies and workers in the direction of better choices for work-life balance
2. Paid and unpaid leave
- Father’s uptake of, say, parental leave is low; higher pay for leave and and greater social support is needed.
- Company policies and initiatives can help ensure that employees avail of their legal entitlements to take leave.
- In Member States, there is a strong correlation between robust social dialogue, better gender equality and good work–life balance.
- Unpaid care work needs to be valued; for this to happen, cultural changes are required. Role models in the workplace can demonstrate the value and possibility combining unpaid care and paid employment.
- If leave is unpaid it does not constitute a realistic choice for most workers.
- Parents’ working hours and their childrens’ school hours remain out of synch: better provision of out-of-school care is needed to bridge the gap.
3. Gender equality
- More equal sharing of paid employment and unpaid care work between men and women work is required.
- Tackling stereotypes is central to improving the take-up of leave and improving work–life balance. One way forward is to encourage the expression of caring traits in men and recognise care as a valid role for men.
- Having long-term care responsibilities impacts workers’ work–life balance. In the future, this is likely to be even more the case.
- Much of the burden of carer is being provided informally; a greater balance is needed between formal and informal care provision, with greater availability of affordable and accessible care.
- Member States need a strike a better balance between the duration of working life, and the duration of post-retirement life. With increasing life expectancy, many countries are still not adapting retirement ages.
- Work and care should not be considered as polar opposites. The societal valuing of care is vital; this can be encouraged from an early age.
This lists some key messages that emerged from the discussions on 16 October at the work-life balance seminar. These do not necessarily represent the views of Eurofound or its Governing Board.
|9.30–10.00||Welcome and opening|
|10.00–11.15||Opening session: Familiar topics – new perspectives|
|11.30–12.45||Panel debate 1: Business as usual?|
|13.30–14.45||Panel debate 2: Life beyond work|
|14.45–16.00||Panel debate 3: Looking to the future – Policies for work-life balance in an evolving workplace|
- Full programme: A modern agenda for work-life balance [updated 11 October 2018]
- Opening presentation: A modern agenda for work-life balance
A modern agenda for work-life balance