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Flexible work helps everyone25th of November 2010
Both employers and workers benefit in many ways from flexible working time arrangements - says a new European Commission study. The report on flexible working time arrangements and gender equality provides an overview of current practices in the 27 EU and the EEA-EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland).
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).
Vice-president Viviane Reding, EU commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, said: "Flexible working time arrangements, care facilities for children and other dependents, and leave entitlements tend to lead to higher employment rates for both women and men as well as more sustainable birth rates.
People keep jobs
"In times of economic slowdown flexible working arrangements can help people stay in their jobs. We need to continue the progress made in family-friendly labour structures."
Flexibility in length of working time is more widespread in northern and western Europe, whereas in Hungary, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Estonia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania the traditional 40 hour working dominates. Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Finland and Norway all score relatively highly in flexible organisation with a little more than half of all employees using some kind of flexibility in their working hours.
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.