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It’s not just working parents who want work life balance


Early findings from a new Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) survey of 7,500 employees were announced today by Margaret Hodge, Minister for Employment and Equal Opportunities. This survey is part of a comprehensive study on work-life balance which also covers 2,500 workplaces and 250 headquarters. It reveals that everyone, not just parents want to get a life. Employees regardless of whether or not they have children, want flexible working practicesso they can better balance the demands of work and home life.

There is also new guidance published today from the DfEE and the Women's Unit to help employers improve the working lives of all theirstaff.Among the findings for employees with no caring responsibilities:

- 19% would like to be able to work part-time, the same number for those with caring responsibilities;

- 21% would like to work annualised hours (having to a work a certain amount of hours each year but being able to vary the week worked throughout the year), the same number for people with caring responsibilities;

- 12% would like the option of a job-share. This is 19% for people with caring responsibilities;

- 34% would like flexitime, compared with 37% for people with caring responsibilities;

- 34% would like to work compressed hours (for example allowing an employee to do a full-time job in four days a week instead of five). This figure is 37% for those with caring responsibilities;

- 26% would like to be able to work from home, only one percent less than the figure for those with caring responsibilities.

There is also a huge potential demand for more flexible working practices in both the private and public sectors. For example:

- almost a quarter (24%) of all employees currently work flexitime although 35% employees want to;

- 17% of employees say that flexitime is compatible with the work they do but do not think their employer would allow them to work flexitime;

- only 6% of employees currently work a compressed working hours week but 33% would like to; and

- 14% of employees say that working compressed hours is compatible with the work they do but do not think they would be allowed by their employer to work this way.

The good-practice guide for employers published today, Creating a Work-Life Balance, offers advice to employers on how to set up policies and working practices which enable their employees to achieve a better work-life balance. It features nine detailed case studies from a range of organisations of various sizes, all of which have enjoyed significant business benefits from introducing flexible working practices in their organisation.

Margaret Hodge said:

"A better balance between work and life is an issue for everyone, not just those with caring responsibilities. Simple changes can make all the difference to all employees trying to balance their personal and working lives more successfully.

"There are business benefits too. Money is saved through reduced sickness absence, stress, recruitment and training costs and productivity is raised through better morale. Our case studies show this very clearly.

"Work-life balance is not just the latest catchphrase, and not just for parents. More and more organisations in all sectors are developing these policies for all their staff because it makes good business sense. It's a win win situation for all concerned and we would like more organisations to take up this issue in their workplace."

Margaret Jay, Minister for Women, said:

"A flexible working environment is key to helping parents balance their work and home lives. But flexibility doesn,t only benefit the employees, it's also in the interest of the employer.

"Good, successful companies know that if they offer flexible working practices they will get a more loyal and motivated workforce. They will be able to recruit and retain the best staff, reduce absenteeism, increase their productivity and gain a competitive edge."


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