Work-life balance

27 September 2019

Work–life balance is a satisfactory state of equilibrium between an individual’s work and private life. 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. It is also an important factor in determining the participation of women and older workers in the labour market.

EU context

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.

Research

Work–life balance continues to be a significant research topic for Eurofound, in its surveys and other studies, including in the outputs from the recently published European Quality of Life Survey 2016

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.

Featured: Striking a balance: Reconciling work and life in the EU

14 December 2018 - How to combine work with life is a fundamental issue for many people, an issue that policymakers, social partners, businesses and individuals are seeking to resolve. Simultaneously, new challenges and solutions are transforming the interface between work and life: an ageing population, technological change, higher employment rates and fewer weekly working hours. This report aims to examine the reciprocal relationship between work and life for people in the EU, the circumstances in which they struggle to reconcile the two domains, and what is most important for them in terms of their work–life balance. The report draws on a range of data sources, in particular the EWCS and the EQLS.

Working life and work–life balance

Eurofound's European Observatory of Working Life (EurWORK) provides information on working conditions and sustainable work, and the implications for work–life balance for parents and caregivers, including a database on wages, working time and collective disputes. Eurofound has also estimated the economic and social costs of the gender employment gap and can offer information on the creation of employment in care services.

Eurofound’s annual review of developments in working life in the EU looks at national and EU-level policies to promote work–life balance and investigates the role of collective agreements in this area.

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.

Data and resources

 

Ongoing work

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