The European Commission recognises the importance of work-life balance. It is argued that a positive work-life balance contributes to a more inclusive labour market, reducing the gender employment gap and raising individuals’ quality of life.
The European Parliament has underlined the slow progress of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment, highlighting the cumulative impact of gender imbalances in pay, overall earnings, family and caring responsibilities and career patterns on women’s pension entitlements. It is hoped that a new EU Directive containing proposals for paternity, parental and carers’ leave will address these issues.
Working time flexibility is said to be one of the factors that has a direct influence on the worker’s standard of living and the overall sustainability of working life. This flexibility has been linked to an increase in employment rates, especially amongst women and older workers.
Promotion of healthy habits in the workplace is also considered important. Encouraging employees to participate in the promotion of safety and health at the workplace leads to discussion and improvement of the levels of stress and workload amongst workers.
Digitalisation is a big driver of change. On the one hand, it allows for new types of jobs, creating more flexibility, leading in turn to an improved work-life balance. On the other hand, digitalisation has promoted a new type of labour organisation that requires more employee skills. This has been linked to increased mental health issues.
EURACTIV organised this Stakeholder Workshop to discuss and understand the complexities of achieving the right work-life balance, and the dual influence of digitalisation in the process.