"Parents and people with caring responsibilities have the right to suitable leave, flexible working arrangements and access to care services. Women and men shall have equal access to special leaves of absence to fulfil their caring responsibilities and be encouraged to use them in a balanced way."
Work-life balance as a determinant of health
When work becomes an overwhelming part of life, it can put additional time and emotional pressure on those with caring responsibilities and become an unmanageable burden. Conflicts between work and family responsibilities may trigger stress, burn-out, maladaptive coping mechanisms, and overall mental health decline.
On the other hand, flexible and gender-sensitive working and leave arrangements with fair compensation promote workers' psychosocial health, productivity and job retention. Work and meaningful employment also plays a significant role in shaping identities, providing for quality of life and social status.
What does the EPSR Action Plan say?
The provision of formal early childhood education and care should be increased to ensure that at least 78% of the population aged 20 to 64 is in employment by 2030.
Social partners should explore measures to ensure fair telework conditions and measures to ensure that all workers can effectively enjoy a right to disconnect.
Public authorities and social partners should cooperate to protect the rights of mobile workers, including seasonal workers.
Member States need to invest in health and care workforce, improving their working conditions and access to training.
Where are we now?
The Social Scoreboard measures progress on the principles of the EPSR. Linked to the principle of childcare and support to children, the Scoreboard outlines that in the EU:
The gender employment gap only decreased by 1 percentage point in the past 10 years (from 11.8 to 10.8).
The employment rate % of population aged 20-64 is at 73.1%.
The gender gap in part-time employment has decreased by 2.8 percentage points in the past 10 years (from 23.5 to 20.7).
*Latest figures - 2021
What are public health actors doing?
The following actions taken by public health actors at (sub)national level can support the implementation of this EPSR principle.
Click on a country to learn about initiatives taking place.
EU tools that help implement Principle 9
There are a range of other policies and instruments at the EU level that can help relevant actors in the field, including in public health, to work together to achieve EPSR Principle 9 on work-life balance.
More information about the EU institutions and programmes is available on EuroHealthNet's Health Inequalities Portal.
The European Care Strategy (communication adopted in September 2022) focuses on EU action to provide high quality accessible and affordable care services for children and people in need of long-term care, and to support decent working conditions for care workers.
For long-term care, policy measures include:
- Developing sustainable long-term care that ensures better and more affordable access to quality services.
- Ensuring adequate social protection for long-term care needs - investing in care services, the improvement of working conditions in the sector, an alleviation of the burden on informal carers.
Revision of the Barcelona targets on early childhood care and education:
- Increase participation in affordable, accessible, and quality early childhood education and care, by revising the Barcelona targets.
Have your say
Would you like to share promising policies or practices carried out by your public health institute, which support the implementation of this EPSR principle?
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