Improving work-life balance through enabling social services:

From service provision to decent policies

The European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) contains a principle (principle 9) aimed at improving work-life balance of parents and people with caring responsibilities. One of the deliverables of the EPSR is the 'New Start' initiative aimed at addressing the work-life balance challenges faced by working parents and carers. The initiative, launched on 26 April 2017, entails a mixture of legislative and non-legislative measures aimed at modernising the regulation of this area. The Work-Life Balance Package proposed will help working parents and carers by not obliging them to make a choice between their family lives and their professional careers. The proposal for a directive sets new or higher minimum standards to create more convergence between EU Member States, by preserving and extending existing rights. It will improve current EU law on paternity, parental and carers' leave as well as flexible working arrangements. In addition, the European Union will support Member States in adopting measures to ensure accessible, affordable and quality formal care services.

The research looks into the crucial role of social services in improving work-life balance in Europe. In particular, it covers two issues: assess promising practices of social service provision and their Work-Life Balance (WLB) impact and provide an in-depth analysis of the environment which enables the development of such services. The Study would also provide guidance and recommendations to policy-makers and social service providers.

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Recruitment and Retention in social services

Unlocking the Sector’s Job Creation Potential

Social Services are one of the biggest job creators in Europe today with over 1.7 million new jobs created since 2008, and it plays a key role in empowering all people to play an active role in society. The sector already employs over 10 million people and is fast growing to respond to demographic changes (ageing population) and evolving family patterns (ensuring work-life balance).

As the demand for services is growing, it becomes increasingly challenging to recruit and retain sufficient staff. We see this as an opportunity to create new jobs in the social services sector, which would contribute to both social and economic growth.

However, in order to unlock the sector’s job creation potential, it is vital to end the downward pressure of public expenditure towards social service providers, which has a negative impact on the quality of the jobs created and the attractiveness of the sector. Instead, we need investment in the sector, and implementation of policy initiatives such as the European Pillar of Social Rights, in order to ensure both quality jobs and quality services. A shortage of staff in social services will ultimately hinder access to quality care and support for those in need of such services (children, persons with disabilities, elderly, and other disadvantaged groups).

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