Navigation path

Additional tools

  • Print version
  • Decrease text
  • Increase text

Reconciliation of work and family life

mother balancing childcare and work, work-life balance

Many European employees with children face the pressures of conflicting interests and priorities in their work, family life and childcare.  These studies explore the role played by employer and public policies in achieving a better balance in regard to satisfactory support for parents and ensuring gender equality.

World Social Protection Report 2014-15: Building economic recovery, inclusive development and social justice (International Labour Organization, Geneva 2014)

This report from the International Labour Organisation gives an overview of social security systems in a number of countries. It examines social protection for all ranging from benefits for children to income security across a variety of working age groups. The report also focuses on old age pensions and income security including injury payments, unemployment protection, disability benefits and maternity cover.

Maternity and paternity at work: Law and practice across the world (International Labour Organization, Geneva 2014)

The International Labour Organization (ILO) report outlines the situation regarding maternity and paternity benefits and rights across 185 countries and territories. The majority of those examined have integrated some support and protection mechanisms into their law. This comparative analysis examines how these countries and regions treat various issues including leave from work, employment protection and non-discrimination, cash benefits, health protection, breastfeeding arrangements at work and childcare. While recent economic downturn and the accompanying austerity measures into account, the report looks at the situation over the last 20 years and how national laws have conformed to ILO Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No. 183), the Recommendation (No. 191) and the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 (No. 156).

Caring for children and dependants: effect on careers of young workers (Eurofound, 2013)

This background paper requested from the European Parliament gives an overview of the effects on the career choices that the lack of childcare and care facilities for other dependants has. It furthermore examines the particular effects on young people in the labour market and focuses on the accessibility of those services in the light of the economic crisis. Data included stems from the third European Quality of Life Survey of 2011 (EQLS), the 2013 European Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the 2011 Eurobarometer survey. One of the main findings the analysis presents is that the care responsibilities discussed are a key factor for young people not being able to seek employment.

Study on the variations in adoption of workplace work–family arrangements in Europe: the influence of welfare-state regime and organizational characteristics

This article by Laura den Dulk, Pascale Peters, Erik Poutsma, published in the International Journal of Human Resource Management, uses a unique data set of more than 2800 organizations in 19 countries.  The study investigated the variations in adoption of workplace work–family arrangements and whether this variation can be explained either by differences in welfare-state contexts or by organization-related factors. It found that when the development of work– family arrangements is mainly left to the market, employers often do not counterbalance the absence of public provisions. The findings support the argument that regulatory measures, such as EU initiatives, help to create a normative climate that gives rise to new social expectations and ‘a sense of entitlement’ regarding work–family support. Furthermore, in an institutional context in which work–family support is considered important, employers may look for ways to show their sensitivity to the issue in a way that benefits the organization.

Eurofound report on parenting support in Europe (Eurochild, 2013)

This report, to be published in January 2013 by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions , looks at parenting support and education services for families with children of pre-school age across seven European countries (Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Portugal and Sweden) in order to identify best practices in the provision of services. Availability of services to support parents “has important implications on work-life balance and children’s well-being”. However, the study finds that one of the most important barriers to take up of these services (especially by fathers) is the prejudice surrounding people who enrol in these courses, labelling them as “bad parents”. The report also formulates a set of policy recommendations to implement programmes that are more objectively evaluated and carefully adapted to the needs of the target population.

Family Sizes in Europe: Evidence from the 2011 Eurobarometer Survey (Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital – Vienna Institute of Demography of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2012)pdf

A recently published report by Maria Rita Testa of the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (Vienna Institute of Demography) entitled “Family Sizes in Europe: Evidence from the 2011 Eurobarometer Survey” reveals a discrepancy between the ideal and actual family size for Europeans in EU27. About 30% of European men and women age 40 or above in the EU27 stop their reproductive career before reaching the family size they consider to be ideal when asked in the survey. Over the last decade, preference for two-children families have slightly increased, and the ideal number of children for most Europeans remains high at about two. The report suggests that in the context of declining European fertility, high ideals leave room for policymakers to try and close the gap between ideal and actual family size.

Eurochild compendium on family and parenting support (Eurochild, 2012)pdf

Eurochild has recently published a compilation of inspiring practices in the area of early childhood intervention in family and parenting support. Authors have collected practices which have delivered positive impacts for children and families. After five years of exchange across European Union Member States, they have developed 12 case studies of parenting and family support. The report recommends that parenting and family support should be part of a broader strategy to tackle the causes of poverty and to support child welfare. Moreover, it should be empowering, rest on child-rights approaches, and adopt a balanced and critical perspective on the evidence base rather than a focus on specific methodologies.

Eurofound – Third annual yearbook on Living and Working in Europe, 2011

This Eurofound 2011 yearbook provides an overview of the working conditions of Europeans, based on data collected through three surveys. Results are presented under five headings: jobs, good working conditions, industrial relations and working conditions, youth and old age, and inclusive communities. The report analyses the effects of the crisis on these themes, and points out that the crisis has hampered policymaker’s efforts notably when it comes to retirement, youth unemployment, but also the development of family-friendly workplaces.

Reconciliation of Work and Family Life as a Condition of Equal Participation in the Labour Market (European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), 2011)

In this report, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) analyses the reconciliation of work and family life in relation to equal participation in the labour market. Findings on the key legislative developments on maternal, paternal and parental leave at the EU level are reviewed, as well as up-to-date sex disaggregated data on parental leave and other family policy-related issues. Information is also provided on relevant indicators such as the allocation of parental leave between employed men and women or the policies aimed at promoting a balance between working and family life for both genders.

International Review of Leave Policies and Related Research 2011 (International Network on Leave Policies & Research, 2011)

This report by the International Network on Leave Policies & Research examines current leave policies in 30 countries as of 2011. Alongside a brief update on policy changes since January 2010, the report provides an overview of paternity, maternity and parental leave, as well as a summary of other related measures ranging from leave for adoptive parents to leave in case of child illness. The second part of the report consists of country notes featuring the most up-to-date information on leave policies across the 30 states studied.

A Flying Start? Maternity Leave Benefits and Long Run Outcomes of Children (Pedro Carneiro, Katrine V. Loken, Kjell G. Salvanes, 2011)pdf

The study looks at the long-term impact of increasing maternity leave benefits on children, in particular education and earnings at age 30. This is done through the analysis of a reform that increased paid and unpaid maternity leave in Norway in July 1977.

The role of local authorities in parenting support (Eurochild, 2011)pdf

The report outlines the lessons learned and recommendations for providers of parenting support, local and national governments and the European Commission from Eurochild’s Family and Parenting Support Thematic Working Group Round Table. The event took place on 19 and 20 May 2011 and was hosted by the Dutch municipality of Eindhoven and the Netherlands Youth Institute. The report contains ‘inspiring’ practices of family and parenting support from Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Northern-Ireland and The Netherlands.

Report on Progress on Equality between Women and Men in 2010 (European Commission, 2011)pdf(3 MB)

This report analyses the progress towards gender equality in the European Union in 2010. A Women’s Charter and the Strategy for Equality between Women and Men (2010-2015) were adopted, which showed the commitment by the European Commission to advance equality between women and men in its policies.

Second European Quality of Life Survey: Family life and work (Eurofound, 2010)

The report looks at ways to find a better balance between the demands of work and family responsibilities for parents across Europe. Based on data from the second European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS), conducted by Eurofound in 2007, it analyses tensions between work demands and household and care tasks, against a background of different institutional settings, labour market structures and cultural factors.

Flexible working time arrangements and gender equality - A comparative review of 31 European countries (European Commission, 2010)

Expert Group on Gender and Employment looks at the relationship between working time flexibility and gender equality and compares the state of play in 31 European countries (EU-27 and EEA/EFTA). It gives an overview of working time flexibility throughout Europe as well as an in-depth analysis of flexibility in terms of length and organisation of working time. Information is also provided on the regulatory framework and recent policy developments in the field. In addition, the review includes a detailed statistical annex.

Promoting Family-Friendliness at Workplace through Awards, Audits and Labelling Schemes (European Commission, 2010)pdf(147 kB)

On 26 March 2010 the European Commission organized a seminar, during which three schemes for promotion of family-friendliness at the workplace were presented and discussed. The schemes were the Austrian Work and Family Audit, the French Corporate Parenthood Charter and the two Polish contests awarding family-friendly companies. The reportpdf(147 kB) prepared by Nina Bosnicova documents the event and provides an analysis of the three models’ strengths and weaknesses, accompanied by an outline of challenges for the future.

Men and Gender Equality tackling gender segregated family roles and social care jobs (European Commission, 2010)

This publication looks at gender inequalities through a focus on men. An understanding from this angle is important for advancing effective gender equality policies. It is vital that men are involved in making the social changes needed to achieve gender equality. This involves tackling gender segregation in the home as well as the workplace.

Equality between Women and Men (European Commission, 2010)

The European Commission reports each year to the Spring European Council on developments towards gender equality in the EU Member States and presents the future challenges and priorities. In the 2010 report the Commission reiterates its commitment to promote gender equality by strengthening the gender dimension in all parts of the post-Lisbon strategy.

The document is available in 23 language versions.

The importance of family-friendliness for business development (European Business Test Panel, 2009)pdf Choose translations of the previous link 

This short report presents the results of the European Business Test Panel (EBTP) on family-friendly measures in companies and attitudes towards the reconciliation of work and family life.

Reconciliation between work, private and family life in the European Union (Eurostat Statistical Books, 2009)

This publication brings together information on various aspects of combining work with private and family life in EU Member States. These aspects range from labour market participation, working times and their flexibility, maternity and parental leave to child care services.

Care Provision within Families and its Socio-Economic Impact on Care Providers (European Commission, 2009)pdf(73 kB)

This study, sponsored by the European Commission, investigates the socio-economic impact of family care-giving. It was written by a team of researchers from the University of York (England) and Expertise Centre on Long-Term Care "Vilans" (the Netherlands). The full reportpdf(73 kB)and a policy briefingpdf(2 MB)can be downloaded from this site. For more information about provision of care in Europe please visit the Eurocarerssite.

The Politics of Parental Leave Policies - children, parenting, gender and the labour market (Sheila B. Kamerman and Peter Moss, 2009)

This book looks at parental leave policy within the work/family context. It addresses how and why particular policies are created and subsequently developed in particular countries. Chapters cover leave policies in 15 countries in the European Union and beyond.

Active ageing and gender equality policies: The employment and social inclusion of women and men of late working and early retirement age (European Commission, 2009)pdf Choose translations of the previous link 

The report provides an analysis of gender differences and inequalities in the employment and social situation of older people. It looks at t he most relevant active ageing strategies aimed at increasing senior worker employment , promoting training and lifelong learning for elderly people and creating an age-friendly environment.

Working in Europe: Gender differences (Eurofound, 2008)

A Eurofound analysis of employment patterns and gender differences in relation to work in the EU.

Partnerships for more family-friendly living and working conditions – How to obtain support from the European Structural Funds (European Commission, 2008)pdf(8 MB)

The brochurepdf(8 MB) aims to show how European Structural Funds can be used to set up local projects which support families and promote family-friendly living and working environment. It also presents a range of initiatives as best practice examples of EU-funded projects which help families across Europe.

Family life and the needs of an ageing population (European Commission, 2008)pdf Choose translations of the previous link 

This Flash Eurobarometer survey (Flash EB No. 247) was conducted in order to examine how families felt about their life today, the problems faced and their opinions about policies that could help improve the situation. In addition, the needs of an ageing population were also examined from the point of view of financial planning, housing, activities, health, etc. Summarypdf Choose translations of the previous link  and full reportpdf Choose translations of the previous link  are now available.

Babies and Bosses – Reconciling Work and Family Life (OECD, 2007)

synthesis of findings on family policies and situation of families in OECD countries from 2002 to 2005.

Working conditions in the European Union: the gender perspective (Eurofound, 2007)

The report examines the extent of occupational segregation by gender and how it impacts on the quality of women's and men's working lives.

Working time and work-life balance in European companies (Eurofound, 2006)pdf

The reportpdf provides data on the working time arrangements used in companies, the reasons for using such arrangements and the outcomes for companies and workers.

Reconciliation of work and private life – A comparative review of thirty European countries (European Commission, 2005)

This report contains an overview of policies targeted towards the reconciliation agenda of the 25 EU Member States.

The Council of Europe Family Policy Database

The Council of Europe developed a database that contains information on relevant sectors of family policy. It covers 40 of the Council of Europe's 47 member States, including all members of the European Union.

European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) report - Reconciliation of Work and Family Life as a Condition of Equal Participation in the Labour Market (2013)

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA) designates 12 areas of concern for European Member States. One of EIGE’s  primary functions is to support the European Council in its review of the implementation of one of these areas, and this report focusses on the reconciliation of work and family life as a condition of equal participation in the labour market. This summary pdfpresents the key findings of the review, including EU level legislative developments and the latest data concerning parenting and parental leave, and a discussion of available childcare services in Member States.