09/19/2007

Reconciliation of professional and private life: exchange of good practices

Policies for reconciling work and private life aim at fi nding a satisfactory
work/life balance while creating incentives and eliminating disincentives for
women and men to enter and remain on the labour market. This involves a new
approach to work (working-time patterns, work organisation, fl exibility of the
workplace) and support for the private needs of citizens throughout their life
cycle (crèches, after-school activities, care for the elderly and other
dependants or tax incentives).

A new publication by the European Commission (Directorate-General for
Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Unit G.1) presents a
compendium of projects on the theme of "Reconciliation between work and private
life", which were co-financed by the European Commission under the Fifth
Community Programme on Gender Equality. Each profile includes a short
explanation of the objectives of the project and an overview of the methodology
and the results presented. Useful contact information on the promoter and its
international partners can also be found.

Reconciling work and private life is key to the promotion of gender equality,
as it appears that women are the most effected by the lack of work/life
balance. The diffi culty of reconciling work and private life hinders the full
utilisation of the productive potential of the European labour force and
creates obstacles and disincentives to enter and stay on the labour market.
Therefore, the Roadmap for Equality between women and men, which follows the
Framework Strategy for Gender Equality 2001-2005, identifi ed enhancing
reconciliation of work and private life as one of its priority areas. Under the
Fifth Community Programme on Gender Equality 2001-2006, the European Commission
actively contributed to promoting the exchange of information and good practice
on reconciliation through grants to co-fi nance transnational projects
implemented by Member States, local authorities, NGOs, social partners and
other relevant stakeholders.

These projects analysed different aspects of the reconciliation between work
and private life issues. For example, some projects focused on the link between
participation in employment and the recourse to part-time work by women and the
number and age of children. Other projects highlighted that policies, which
improve reconciliation of work and private life, should not be directed only at
women. All these incentives, such as parttime work, fl exibility of contracts,
working time and location, availability of childcare facilities, etc. which in
the past were focused on women, remain relevant. However, these projects show
that reconciliation between work and private life can only be successful if the
environment is equally supportive of a work/life balance for men.

All the projects have produced various outputs ­ publications, studies,
toolkits, networks, websites and conferences. These underline the fact that
achieving better reconciliation between work and private life is still a
challenge and one vital aspect of broader issues, such as declining fertility
rates in Europe and changes in family structures. The latter also has an
important bearing on changes in the composition of the labour force, on new
ways of organising work, on the distribution of sharing work between women and
men and on the restructuring of social protection systems.

Much progress on these issues has already been made at EU and national levels,
but there is still plenty to do. Furthermore, the challenges of globalisation,
Europe's ageing population, the low birth rate and the impact on the
sustainability of our social security systems are becoming increasingly
pressing. The Roadmap for Equality between women and men takes all these new
aspects into account by focusing efforts on six priority areas and identifying
measures for each area that are to be implemented over the next few years,
notably on the issues relating to reconciling work and private life.

However, the European Commission cannot achieve the objectives listed in the
Roadmap by acting alone. This publication is aimed at illustrating and
providing inspiration and refl ection on what can be achieved throughcommitted
partnerships working together towards a common goal. It presents a compendium
of projects onthe theme of reconciliation between work and private life, which
were co-fi nanced by the European Commission in 2002 under the Fifth Community
Programme on Gender Equality.

Each profile includes a short explanation of the objectives of the project and
an overview of the methodology and the results presented. Useful contact
information on the promoter and its international partners can also be found
herein.

Each of these projects has made its own unique and important contribution to
improve the reconciliation of work and private life in Europe.

More information:


AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work