by Ana Pérez
Today’s increased number of women on the labour market means a different working-life trajectory, departing from the male single breadwinner model. Women face multiple challenges throughout their working life, from caring for small children, to caring for disabled, or elderly relatives later in life, all the while the gender pay gap remains at 16% across the EU. These circumstances add up to a high vulnerability at the age of retirement, as retired women earn 39% less in pensions than retired men.
Flexibility in working hours is one of the pillars in solving these discrepancies: individually adapted working time arrangements can allow a worker to both be present and productive at the workplace, without neglecting their caring role.
Flexible working times also make good business sense: instead of losing employees because of family duties, adapted working time arrangements could allow companies to retain them, avoiding the loss of investment in knowledge, experience and skills. In times of economic and financial pressure, this gain cannot be neglected.
COFACE has recently answered to the consultation on the review of the European Commission Working Time Directive and called for measures for improving working time arrangements in the upcoming review of the Directive. A reviewed Working Time Directive can contribute to a positive dynamic between employers and employees.
The Working Time Directive also has an important role in creating a level playing field in Europe and to avoid social dumping. Regulations on compensatory rest for additional working time, on-call or standby time protect the health and security of employees and enable them to continue in their job for longer. Dropping or loosening these regulations would increase health problems among older workers and put a burden on society, let alone on employees and their families.