8 March 2023
Work–life balance refers to the level of prioritisation between an individual’s work and personalRead more
Work–life balance refers to the level of prioritisation between an individual’s work and personal life. A good work–life balance is achieved when an individual’s right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected as the norm – to the mutual benefit of the individual, business and society. Enabling a better work–life balance for workers across the life course has been an EU policy goal for many years as it is central to ensuring that work is sustainable for all.
Listen to or watch a recording of our International Women's Day 2023 podcast on the work–life challenges of women and men.
- Podcast 8 March 2023: The work-life challenges of women and men
Eurofound Talks: The work-life challenges of women and men
Eurofound Talks Job Quality
Economic and social inequalities in Europe in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic
On 17 November 2017, the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission formally proclaimed the European Pillar of Social Rights, which included an initiative to support work–life balancRead more
On 17 November 2017, the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission formally proclaimed the European Pillar of Social Rights, which included an initiative to support work–life balance. Subsequently, in June 2019, the Council adopted a new Directive on work–life balance for parents and carers. The Directive aims to increase women's participation in the labour market and outlines a number of new or improved minimum standards for parental, paternity and carer’s leave, as well as flexible working arrangements, aiming to also increase men's take-up of these.
- European Commission: European Pillar of Social Rights
- Council of the EU: Better work-life balance for parents and carers in the EU: Council adopts new rules
- European Commission: Work-life balance
Work–life balance continues to be a significant research topic for Eurofound, in its surveys and other studies.Read more
Work–life balance continues to be a significant research topic for Eurofound, in its surveys and other studies.
Survey data on work–life balance issues
Eurofound’s European Quality of Life Surveys (EQLS) provide comparisons between countries on the reconciliation of work and family life, flexible working time arrangements and the provision of quality care services. The European Company Surveys (ECS) provide data on why and how companies make use of a broad variety of working time arrangements. The European Working Conditions Surveys (EWCS) look at the organisation of working time across the EU and issues related to it including flexible arrangements, working time preferences and work–life balance.
- Survey: European Quality of Life Surveys
- Survey: European Company Surveys
- Survey: European Working Conditions Surveys
COVID-19 and work–life balance
Eurofound’s unique e-survey, Living, working and COVID-19, provides a snapshot of the impact of the changes that occurred during the pandemic on people’s lives, with the aim of helping policymakers shape the response to the crisis. Conducted in five rounds during 2020, 2021 and 2022, it allows for comparison of the challenges that arose during the different stages of living through the pandemic. A range of questions focus on people’s work situation, their level of teleworking during COVID-19, experiences of working from home and the impact on work–life balance.
- Publication: Fifth round of the Living, working and COVID-19 e-survey: Living in a new era of uncertainty
The latest findings, published in July 2022 show that despite some improvement in work–life balance issues, there has been a sharp decline in family time among workers in 2022, with almost 30% reporting that their job is preventing them from spending time with their family, from a much lower 19% in 2020.
Working life and work–life balance
Eurofound gathers information on working life in the EU, looking at national and EU-level policies to promote work–life balance and investigating the role of social dialogue and collective bargaining in this area.
Research investigates the opportunities for working time flexibility and improved work–life balance related to digitisation and platform work, linked with the labour market integration of specific groups, such as those with care responsibilities or health issues.
In its research on working conditions and sustainable work, Eurofound has looked at the implications for work–life balance for parents and caregivers.
In the context of the negotiations on the work–life balance package at EU level, and at the European Commission’s request, Eurofound has produced a review of national statistics on the uptake of family-related leave by fathers over time across the EU Member States and Norway.Read less
Key outputs over the years
Publications & dataTop
The sections below provide access to a range of publications, data and ongoing work on this topic.
- Publications (324)
- Ongoing work
Eurofound publications come in a variety of formats, including reports, policy briefs, blogs, articles and presentations.
Developments in working life in Europe: EurWORK annual review 2016Publication 25 September 2017
Four out of five workers in Europe happy with working time ‘fit’News 18 September 2017
Working time patterns for sustainable workPublication 18 September 2017
United Kingdom: Low take-up of Shared Parental Leave schemeArticle 13 September 2017
Germany: Failure of proposal to allow part-time workers claim full-time positionArticle 25 August 2017
Work-life balance and flexible working arrangements in the European UnionPublication 19 July 2017
Informal Meeting of Ministers of Employment, Social Affairs, Family and Gender Equality (EPSCO)Event 19 July 2017
Norway: Latest working life developments – Q2 2017Article 14 July 2017
Germany: Working time back on the social partners' agendaArticle 30 June 2017
EU level: Latest working life developments – Q1 2017Article 15 May 2017
A selection of related data on this topic are linked below.
- Data: European Working Conditions Telephone Survey 2021 - Data visualisation
- Data: Living, working and COVID-19 data
- Data: Working during COVID-19
- Data: EQLS 2016: Work–life balance and care questions
- Data: EWCS 2015: Working time questions
- Data: Database of wages, working time and collective disputes
Research continues in this topic on a variety of themes, which are outlined below with links to forthcoming titles.