Headlines: August 23rd, 2001

The TUC and The Industrial Society have condemned the UK’s long hours culture, and urged employers to adopt a more positive approach to work/life balance.The two have jointly launched a guide to flexible working, ‘Get the balance right’. They say that people in the UK work the longest hours in Europe and almost half of the country’s employees have no flexible working arrangements in place.

The guide promotes the benefits of adopting work-life balance policies for both employers and staff, and includes a route map to achieve changes in the organisation of working time that will benefit both employee and employer. It is a practical step by step guide to implementing work-life balance strategies that will enhance productivity and efficiency.

The Industrial Society/TUC pack says that work-life balance isn’t just about introducing policies for working parents but ensuring everyone at work has the opportunity to take the time to pursue other interests.

The 1998 Workplace Employee Relations Survey (WERS) suggests only one in three employees (32%) are able to take the advantages of flexitime, a quarter (28%) are allowed to take parental leave, and only 16% have access to a job-share scheme. Almost half of the employees surveyed in WERS (46%) said there was no provision for flexible working at all.

On top of this, UK workers still work the longest hours in Europe – 43.6 hours a week, compared to 38.4 hours a week for Belgian workers – and despite the introduction of the European Working Time Directive in 1999, four million employees are still regularly working over 48 hours a week.

Will Hutton, Chief Executive of The Industrial Society says: ‘Balancing work and life is crucial to better workplace performance and productivity. Traditionally UK employers have found it difficult to reconcile flexible working with the embedded culture of presenteeism. The irony is that this inflexible approach to work-life balance decreases employee motivation and results.

Get the balance right is available priced 895 pounds plus carriage and VAT and at 225 pounds for trade unions. Copies are available through The Industrial Society on 0870 400 1000. For trade union sales contact Davinder Sahota 020 7467 1230.

Link: www.tuc.org.uk