Work-life balance

With globalisation and rapid technological advances, boundaries between work and home are blurring and demands on workers and enterprises have never been higher. This has meant increasing challenges for workers to be able to successfully reconcile the conflicting demands of paid work and their personal lives. Dramatic increases in women’s labour force participation and the resulting demise of the so-called “male breadwinner” model have often resulted in a “double burden” for women of both paid and unpaid work. In addition, with the aging of the workforce in many countries, there are increasing concerns about how workers can address the needs not only of their immediate families, but of their extended families as well (e.g. elderly parents, disabled or ill relatives, etc.).

  • Working time is a key factor that can either help facilitate work-life balance (e.g., through reductions in working hours and certain forms of flexible working time arrangements) or hinder it (e.g., excessively long hours, unpredictable schedules).
  • In addition, the extent of the availability of various forms of paid leave (paid annual leave, paid sick leave, paid maternity/paternity/family leave, paid parental leave) is an important factor affecting work-life balance as well.
  • Maternity protection helps to safeguarding the health of expectant and nursing mothers and protecting them from job discrimination.
  • While existing ILO standards, most notably the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, cover some of these issues, the ILO is extending its research and policy work to cover a broader range of work-life balance issues, in order to develop research-based policy advice and practical information that addresses modern realities and meets the needs of 21st Century families.


  1. Project

    Work Autonomy, Flexibility and Work-Life Balance (WAF)

    This project aims to examine how work autonomy and working-time flexibility (flexi-time) is being used and provided, and how it can be used to benefit worker’s work-life balance rather than to lead to spill-overs and blurring of work and family life.

  2. Report

    Assessment of the Working Time Demonstration in SMEs in Indonesia

    The demonstration was carried out to assess the effect of working time consulting and training on the work-life balance of workers, their satisfaction with various aspects of their jobs, and on the productivity and profitability of enterprises.