EU backs flexible working

A European Commission study covering flexible work practices in European countries has found that employers and workers benefit from flexible working time arrangements, but that part time work can decrease gender equality.

A European Commission study covering flexible work practices in European countries has found that employers and workers benefit from flexible working time arrangements, but that part time work can decrease gender equality.

The expert group report comes as ministers for gender equality gather in Brussels for an informal meeting to discuss the new strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015.

The expert report on "Flexible working time arrangements and gender equality" provides a comprehensive overview of current practices in the 27 EU and the EEA-EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland).

Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Finland and Norway already offer flexible work arrangements, with more than half of all workers benefitting from some flexibility in their work schedules.

Working hours were less flexible in Hungary, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Estonia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania, where the traditional 40-hour week is more dominant.

Flexible work patterns generally had a positive effect on the employment rates of women, said the report, but part-time work  remained concentrated in sectors with low wages, offering fewer promotional opportunities and training.

It focuses on internal flexibility (within companies and organisations), both in terms of length of working time (for instance, part-time) and organisation of working time (for instance, flexitime arrangements or staggered hours and flexibility in starting and ending the work day).

The report’s main conclusions are: – There are still very large differences between the Member States regarding flexibility of working time;
– Increased flexibility in working time is not always good for gender equality;
– Recent policy developments show that working time flexibility is on the political agenda in several countries, though the specific topics may vary.

 





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