Time: getting the balance right

The importance of work-life balance should not be underestimated by employers: one-in-five people cite this as the reason why they are considering leaving their current job. This chapter deals with the legal requirements covering working time and leave; rights to flexible working are dealt with in chapter 8.

Research for the 2015 Randstad Award found that work-life balance remained the fourth most important criterion for choosing an employer but was the only one of the top four not to see a drop in the percentage of respondents ranking it in their top five most important criteria.

Work-life balance was cited as contributory factor for leaving their employment by 22% of respondents and by 21% who are considering leaving their employer in the next 12 months. The TUC’s analysis of ONS figures has found that one in five workers regularly works seven hours a week in unpaid overtime. Meanwhile, a YouGov survey for business information services company Wolters Kluwer found that a third of workers did not use their annual holiday entitlement, with the most common reasons cited being the ability to roll leave into the following year, heavy workload and clashes with other employees’ holidays. These findings backed up a similar study in 2014. Also in 2014, a survey by BUPA found that two-thirds of employees were failing to take a 20-minute lunch break – even though they admitted the lack of a break affected their productivity in the afternoon.