Magazine article European Social Policy

Working Conditions : Survey on Working Time in Europe

Magazine article European Social Policy

Working Conditions : Survey on Working Time in Europe

Article excerpt

The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), a European Union agency based in Dublin, has released the findings of its latest survey on working conditions throughout Europe.

Carried out every five years since 1990, Eurofound conducted interviews for this survey with 21,031 human resource managers in companies in 21 EU member states (15 old' and six new') and 5,233 employee representatives. The survey is particularly comprehensive in that it covers all aspects of working time: flexibility, part-time, leave, phased and early retirement, etc. According to Eurofound Director Jorma Karppinen, "this survey provides unique knowledge on working time arrangements in Europe. It gives a representative picture of workplace practices and takes into account the views of both managers and worker representatives".

FLEXIBILITY

Flexible working time arrangements are in operation in almost half (48%) of companies with ten or more employees in Europe. The proportion is higher in the services sector (50%) than in industry (43%). "Enabling employees to better combine work and family (or personal) life" (68%) and "better adaptation of working hours to the business's workload" (47%) are the two main reasons cited by managers for introducing flexible working arrangements.

PART-TIME WORK

There are huge differences between countries in the incidence of companies offering part-time employment: almost nine out of ten businesses in the Netherlands employ part-time workers, compared to only around two in ten businesses in Greece and Portugal.

The proportion of companies where part-time is the main or even only form of work is high in Germany, Latvia, Sweden, Denmark and it is especially true for the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

A significant proportion of both employee representatives (41%) and managers (34%) stated that working part-time had a negative impact on career prospects. …

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