EPRSauthor By / April 9, 2014

Reconciling work and private life

A balanced work and private life is important for a healthy workplace. Research shows that employees with higher levels of…

© MaryPerry / Fotolia
Reconciling work and private life
© MaryPerry / Fotolia

A balanced work and private life is important for a healthy workplace.

Research shows that employees with higher levels of work-family conflict suffer up to 12 times more often from burnout and can experience up to three times more depression or other psychological problems as workers with a better work-life balance.

To create a more family-friendly work environment has been for a long time on the European policy agenda. Article 33 the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union refers to the concept of work-life balance.

Directives, Recommendations and other related instruments concerning gender equality, working time arrangements and maternity/paternity leave have been adopted. Some of the Europe 2020 Flagship Initiatives also impact on work and family life.

In this Keysource you will find selected information sources giving background information to this complex issue. Overviews, analytical papers and articles, comparative country information, stakeholders’ views, related legislative acts and statistical sources guide you through EU and national measures facilitating the reconciliation of private and professional life.


Work-life balance: Measures to help reconcile work, private and family life / Davies, Ron, EPRS briefing, 28 May 2013, 6 p.
An overview of family-related policies and EU measures aimed at helping families to balance their private and professional lifes.

Family issues and work-life balance , European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, E-facts 57, 2012, 8 p.
This factsheet gives a short introduction to the subject and lists some practical advice on how to cope better with the work-life challenge.


A balancing act? Work–life balance, health and well-being in European welfare states, European Journal of Public Health, First published online: 24 February 2014 (abstract only)
This study aims to analyze how negative work-life balance influences public health in Europe.

EU work–family policies : challenging parental roles or reinforcing gendered stereotypes? / Weldon-Johns, Michelle, European law journal: review of European law in context, Vol. 19 (2013), no. 5, p. 662-681
This article focuses on two EU directives– the Pregnant Workers Directive and the Parental Leave Directive– from a gender point of view.

The emergence and changing nature of a polysemic category: European resources in the field of reconciliation between paid work and private life / Jacquot, Sophie; Ledoux, Clémence; Palier, Bruno , In: RECWOWE Working Papers 11/2010 , 30 p.
A historical background study on EU-level measures taken since the 1950s.

Reconciling work and family life in EU law and policy / Caracciolo di Torella, Eugenia, Masselot, Annick, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010
This book, available in the Library, presents key EU policies and legislative measures concerning leave, working time and care over the years.

Comparative country information

Drivers of Female Labour Force Participation in the OECD / Thévenon, Olivier, In: OECD , OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 145, May 2013, 58 p.
National data from 18 OECD member countries related to reconciliation polices is analysed in this paper.

Stat of art: reconciling work and welfare in Europe / Nelson, Moira, NEUJOBS Working Document no. 5/D 5.1, March 2012, 33 p.
Part I of the paper explores which policies are necessary to adopt in the current socio-economic situation while part II highlights what has been done so far to reform the welfare state in the fields of labour market and family-friendly policies.

Domestic reconciliation policies and the usages of Europe / Graziano, Paolo R.; Jacquot, Sophie; Palier, Bruno; European journal of social security. Vol. 13, no. 1 (2011), p. 3-25
This article looks at how European reconciliation policies have influenced national welfare state reforms.

Stakeholder views

EU Institutions’ views

European Parliament

Written Declaration 0032/-2012 on the European Year for Reconciling Work and Family Life, European Parliament, 22.1.2013

European Year 2014, Parliamentary Question E-013735-13 by Jutta Steinruck (S&D) , Josef Weidenholzer (S&D), 4 December 2013
and the Commission’s answer on 4.3.2014

Decision on the topic for the 2014 European Year, Parliamentary Question P-012282-13 by Heinz K. Becker (PPE), 28 October 2013
and the Commission’s answer on 3.12.2013

European Commission

Work-life balance and reform of the welfare state, European Commission, May 2012, 31 p.
Summary of the achievements of European reconciliation policies and recent developments at the regional level in the Member States that facilitate work and professional life.

Council conclusions: Reconciliation of work and family life in the context of demographic change, Luxembourg, 17 June 2011, 6 p.
Declaration by the Trio of Presidencies (Spain, Belgium, Hungary) inviting all relevant actors to increase efforts to better reconcile work, family and private life.


Work-life balance
A dedicated webpage on Eurofund’s information sources related to the issue.

International organisations’ views

Work–life balance, ILO Governing Body 312th Session, Geneva, November 2011, 21 p.
A policy paper by the ILO’s Conditions of Work and Employment Programme (TRAVAIL) concerning further family-friendly measures.

Working time and work organization, ILO
A dedicated webpage with overview and further information concerning ILO’s data, research and policy work in this area.

Work organization and stress / Leka, Stavroula, Griffiths, Amanda, Cox, Amanda, WHO, 2005, 35 p.
Protecting Workers’ Health Series No. 3 on practical issues related to stress at work.

Supporting workers with family responsibilities: connecting child development and the decent work agenda, Joint ILO-UNICEF working paper, July 2013, 98 p.
This paper presents some critical issues and policy responses concerning working families and early childhood development around the world.

Trade union and NGO views

Working time, gender equality, and reconciling work and family life, ETUC, Fact sheet, 2010, 18 p.

2014 Year of Reconciling Work and Family Life in Europe, COFACE Press briefing, 11 February 2014, 11 p.


Quality of life in Europe: Trends 2003‑2012, Chapter 3: Changes in work-life balance / Eurofund, January 2014, p. 36-42
The third Quality of life survey measures changes in subjective well-being from 2003 to 2011 in Europe. The three work-life balance indicators in the survey are: coming home from work too tired to do some of the necessary household jobs; difficulty in fulfilling family responsibilities; difficulty in concentrating at work.

Working time and work–life balance in a life course perspective / Eurofund, 2012, 76 p.
Based on data from the Eurofound’s fifth European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) the report presents working time patterns in the EU Member States and analyses the impact of working time organisation on the balance of work and private life.

Further surveys and information sources related to work-life balance is available at the Eurofund’s page dedicated to Work-life balance

Work-Life Balance, OECD Better Life Index
Country comparisons using indicators such as working time, time spent on unpaid work or leisure and personal care and gender inequality.

Related legislative procedure(s)

Legislative overviews

OEIL Procedure files on initiatives related to work-life balance (7th term)

Impact of the economic crisis on gender equality and women’s rights, 2012/2301(INI)

Corporate Social Responsibility: promoting society’s interests and a route to sustainable and inclusive recovery, 2012/2097(INI)

Women’s working conditions in the service sector, 2012/2046(INI)

Eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU, 2012/2116(INI)

Employment and social aspects in the Annual Growth Survey 2012, 2011/2320(INI)

Situation of single mothers, 2011/2049(INI)

Application of the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value, 2011/2285(INL)

Equality between women and men in the European Union – 2011, 2011/2244(INI)

Precarious women workers, 2010/2018(INI)

Women entrepreneurship in small and medium sized enterprises, 2010/2275(INI)

Health and safety at work: workers who are pregnant, have recently given birth or are breastfeeding, 2008/0193(COD)

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