Working conditions and sustainable work

A modern agenda for work–life balance - Webcast available

Tue, 16/10/2018
Tue, 16/10/2018

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.


Take-away points

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.

4. Care

  • 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.

Event programme

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
16.00–16.30 Concluding comments

Photo album

A modern agenda for work-life balance

Venue Details
Rue de la Science 14b, 1040 Brussels
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