20 November 2000 - The 'Work-life Balance 2000' baseline study
was conducted jointly by the Institute for Employment Research, University
of Warwick and IFF Research. It was commissioned by the Department of
Education and Employment (DfEE) to give baseline information for the department's work-life
balance campaign. It is representative of national provision of work-life balance
arrangements in places of work which have five or more employees. The study consists of
- a study of employers responsible for 2,500 workplaces in Great Britain;
- a further study of around 7500 employees.
The research concludes that there is a widespread demand from employees for the right
to balance work and home life. It also reveals that businesses prefer to offer stress
counselling for the personal consequences of long working hours (49%) rather than provide
assistance for childcare (9%).
1 in 9 of full-time employees (including men with children) work more than 60 hours
every week. Two-thirds of male employees believe that part-time working would damage their
career prospects. At the same there is a clear demand for greater flexibility - especially from
fathers. In general, men seem to have a greater enthusiasm for working from home than do women.
Virtually all the respondents to both surveys - employees and employers alike - agreed with the
concept of work-life balance. But 1 in 8 of employees still worked Saturdays and Sundays and around
20% of employees worked for 24-hour/7-day-week businesses.
Other conclusions of the study were:
- 80% of workplaces had employees who worked more than their standard
hours with 39% doing so without extra pay;
- just 20% of employers were fully aware of increased maternity
leave rights and 24% fully aware of new paternal leave rights;
- 25% of entitled female employees took less than 18 weeks maternity leave.
- 55% of employers consider it acceptable to allow staff to move from full-time
to part-time work in some cases;
- 24% of employees now work flexitime with 12% working only during school terms
- 56% of women preferred flexible working - for example, part-time or home-based -
after a pregnancy to having a longer maternity leave period.
According to Margaret Hodge, Minister for Employment and Equal Opportunities:
"For decades now women have been calling for a better work-life
balance to help them be the productive workers and good mothers that
they want to be. But men have been excluded from this process. Now
fathers too are calling for a fairer deal. With 14% of fathers
working over 60 hours every week it means that men are less and less
able to spend the time with the family that they want."
"There is agreement all round - from business and from employees -
that work-life balance practices lead to a healthier, happier
workforce and bottom line benefits. Yet there are big differences in
practice on the ground. Half of all employees have access to stress
counselling, but fewer than one in nine are offered a creche to help
with childcare needs. Employers are willing to deal with the
consequences, not causes, of poor work-life balance.
"The most progressive employers in the survey are already seeing the
business benefits of working smarter - not working less. The good
news is that 60% of employers are now allowing their workers to vary
their hours. And over half of employers would allow staff to switch
to part-time working in some cases.
"But employees still have concerns. Nearly half of all workers who
are not offered flexitime are calling for it in this survey. And many
women still choose not to take up their full maternity leave.
"People are our most valuable resource. Only by building a better
work-life balance for all can we get the most out of UK PLC."
And Peter Elwood, Chief Executive of Lloyds TSB and Chair of the
Employers for Work-Life Balance, commented that:
"We recognise that men need to balance their work and life outside
work just as much as women. Lloyds TSB's Work Options scheme provides
a framework which allows employees to request a working pattern that
suits their lives. Both men and women can request to work flexibly
and, as long as they can provide a business case to support this,
their application will be accepted.
"This is good news for employers and good news for staff. It is one
of those rare and much sought after phenomena, a truly win win