Working time patterns have an effect on health and on the ability of workers to continue working until retirement age, finds the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound). The report follows the review of epidemiological studies and identifies working time patterns that have the most significant negative impact on the duration of working lives: long working hours, night work and shift work. The ability to devote time to private issues, such as care for children or other family members, also greatly influences how long workers estimate their ability to remain in employment.
The report includes several good practices from member states, social partners and individual companies:
- Estonian regulation provided clarification about working time duration and rest periods
- Finnish legislative review obliges employers to investigate harm caused to employees by working hours, and imposes compensating overtime mainly by time off
- Social partners in Sweden signed an agreement for nurses to shorten the working time according to the number of night shifts performed
- In France, workers can work part-time for six months to care for a dependent person
- In Germany, legislation made the leave legislation more flexible to employees
- In Slovenia, a project funded by the European Social Fund brings together social partners and a university to develop ideas for better working conditions and work-life balance for small and medium-sized companies
- In Austria, workers can reduce working time from age 62, drawing on a part-time pension
- In Germany, sector-specific demography agreements focus on working conditions to favour work sustainability
For AGE, this report shows once again how important work-life balance is not only to keep people in employment until retirement age, but also to leave workers in better mental and physical health, and thus fostering healthy ageing. The recent proposal by the EU Commission, introducing five years of carers’ leave remunerated at the level of sick pay, is a strong step in supporting a positive work-life balance.
Eurofound (2017): Working Time Patterns for Sustainable Work (pdf)