Magazine article European Social Policy

Employment : Flexibility Works to Everyone's Advantage, Says Commission

Magazine article European Social Policy

Employment : Flexibility Works to Everyone's Advantage, Says Commission

Article excerpt

Flexible working time arrangements are advantageous for employers and workers alike, according to a new study published by the European Commission on 26 October. Its release coincides with an informal meeting in Brussels of ministers for gender equality.

The expert report gives an overview of current practices in the 27 European Union member states and the EFTA/EEA countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland). It focuses on internal flexibility (within companies and organisations), both in terms of length of working time (eg part-time) and organisation of working time (eg flexitime arrangements or staggered hours and flexibility in starting and ending the working day).

The study finds that there are still very large differences between member states: flexibility in length of working time is more widespread in northern and western Europe, whereas in Hungary, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania the traditional 40 hour working week dominates. Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Finland and Norway score relatively highly in flexible organisation with a little more than half of all employees using some kind of flexibility in their working hours.

Increased flexibility in working time is not always good for gender equality. More individualised working hours have a positive effect on female employment rates and can help employees to balance work and personal life, but part-time work (dominated by women) is still concentrated in low-paid sectors with low career and training opportunities in most countries. …

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