Release of the Eurobarometer report on work-life balance by the European Commission

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Work Life Balance infographic 2018
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Work Life Balance infographic by the European Commission 2018

The European Commission has released the Eurobarometer report on work-life balance, which includes many well-known (and less well-known) facts about work-life balance, or lack thereof, for workers in Europe. The numbers for paternity leave show that less than half of men have either taken or are thinking about taking it.The main reason for not taking is that they cannot afford it. One in three Europeans cannot access flexible work arrangements, and three in ten are discouraged to do so. 

Our Work-Life Balance Opinion can be found here

 

Report Summary: 

A fifth of Europeans are not satisfied with the balance between their work and personal life

Just under eight in ten Europeans (78%) say that they are very or fairly satisfied with their work-life balance, but only around a quarter (28%) are very satisfied.

Across the EU, women are slightly less satisfied with their work-life balance than men are.

 

Only four in ten European men have taken paternity leave and even fewer have taken parental leave

Less than half of European men (41%) either have taken paternity leave already or are thinking of taking it. An even smaller proportion of men (32%) gives this answer with respect to parental leave. Significantly more European women are thinking of taking parental leave (57% as opposed to 32% of European men).

 

A quarter of Europeans say that it is difficult for employees in their workplace to take family leave, and a similar proportion says that employees are usually discouraged from doing so

A quarter of Europeans (25%) says that it is not easy for employees in their workplace to take family leave. Over a quarter (27%) of those surveyed agree that employees are discouraged from taking family leave by managers and supervisors.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents say that taking family leave is badly perceived by colleagues and nearly four in ten agree that it has a negative impact on an employee’s career (39%). When taking family leave, more women than men feel badly perceived by colleagues (26% compared to 22% of men) and consider family leave as negative for their career (42% as opposed to 35% of men).

 

Not being able to afford parental leave is one of the main reasons for not taking parental leave, especially for workers with care responsibilities

For workers generally, the two main reasons for not taking or not thinking of taking parental leave are that respondents could not financially afford it (21%) or that their partner or spouse has already used up the allocation of leave (21%).

However, among the workers who are faced in practice with care responsibilities, nearly three in ten (29%) say that they cannot financially afford taking parental leave and nearly as many of these respondents (28%) say that they did not take parental leave because their partner or spouse had already taken the entire period of parental leave.

Men are more likely than women to say that they do not take parental leave because their spouse had already used up their allocation (30% of men compared to 5% of women).

When asked to respondents in general about the main factors that would encourage fathers to take parental leave, the most frequent answer was financial compensation (41%), followed by having the choice of part-time working or taking such leaves in a flexible manner, e.g. blocks (35%).

 

The financial aspect was even more important for workers with care responsibilities: nearly half (48%) of the respondents in this group mention receiving more financial compensation during the leave period as a factor to encourage fathers to take parental leave- as opposed to 41% of overall respondents.

 

A majority of Europeans would only take family leaves if sufficiently remunerated

Over four in ten (43%) of respondents would only take family leave if they were paid 75% of their current salary, while 17% would be willing to take leave on 50% of their salary. Just under three in ten (28%) would take family leave even if they were not paid for this.

Workers with care responsibilities are more likely than respondents overall to say that they would take parental leave if paid 75% of their salary (48% as compared to 43%).

Men are more likely than women to say that they would take family leave only if paid at least 75% of their salary (47% of men compared to 39% of women), while women are more likely than men to say that they would take family leave anyway, even if unpaid (31% of women as opposed to 25% of men).

 

Nearly four in ten Europeans would take dependent care leave to look after a sick, disabled or frail relative

Nearly four in ten (37%) would take dependent care leave if a relative of theirs suddenly needed caring for, while a third (33%) would take time off at very short notice, to be compensated for later (including emergency leave and flexible working hours). Fewer would take annual leave (28%) or sick leave (17%), or would work from home (20%).

Men are more likely than women to say that they would take time off at short notice (37% as opposed to 29% of women), while women are more likely than men to say that they would take dependent care leave (40% compared to 34% of men).

 

Flexible work arrangements are not available for one in three Europeans

Two thirds (65%) of the respondents say that they have access to flexible work arrangements and only over four in ten (42%) make use of these arrangements.

Flexitime is the most widespread form of flexible work arrangements, with nearly six in ten (58%) of those who have access to such arrangements describing it as widespread in the company or organization they work or used to work. Part-time work (53%) is nearly as common.

 

More than a fifth of Europeans say that it is not easy for them to make use of flexible work arrangements, and nearly three in ten say that employees are usually discouraged from doing so

Only 32% of respondents totally agree that it was easy for them to make use of flexible work arrangements, whereas 44% tend to agree and 22% disagree. Nearly three in ten (28%)

Europeans agree with the statement that managers and supervisors usually discourage employees from making use of flexible work arrangements.

Over a quarter (26%) of Europeans say that the use of flexible work arrangements was badly perceived by their colleagues. Nearly one out of three (31%) agrees that making use of flexible work arrangements has a negative impact on their career; more women than men hold this view (34% of women compared to 28% of men).

 

Flexitime is the most preferred option among those who do not have access to flexible work arrangements

Nearly six in ten Europeans (58%) who do not have access to flexible work arrangements would opt for flexitime if it was possible, while a quarter (25%) would choose part-time work and only a fifth (20%) would choose working from home.

Women are more likely than men to express a preference for part-time work (29% at EU level as opposed to 21% for men). This can be seen in all Member States, except for France, Latvia, Romania and Sweden. There are no relevant gender differences at EU level for flexitime (58% of men and women) and teleworking (19% of men and 20% of women).

 

Most Europeans think flexible work arrangements would give them a better chance of entering paid work or enable them to keep working

Nearly three quarters (74%) of Europeans who are not currently in work agree that flexible work arrangements would give them a better chance of entering paid work, and just under two thirds (63%) of those who are in work would decide to continue to work instead of taking extended leave or retirement. Nearly half of the respondents who are working part time (45%) think that they would move from a part-time to a full-time job in response to the introduction of other flexible work arrangements.

 

Workers with care responsibilities have similar attitudes and preferences regarding work-life balance, but are more likely to take or think about taking family leaves as other workers

In some respects, workers with care responsibilities are not only just as likely to be satisfied with their work-life balance as other workers but also just as likely to say that it was easy to make use of flexible working arrangements where these were available. As regards flexitime, they are just as likely to prefer having access to this form of flexible working arrangement.

However, they are more likely to take paternity and parental leave (e.g. 51% of working men with caring responsibilities have taken or are thinking of taking paternity leave as opposed to 43% of overall male respondents). In addition, they depend more on the financial costs that caring imposes, being more likely to cite financial costs as the reason for not taking parental leave. Furthermore, they tend to link higher take-up of parental leave with greater financial compensation.