IoD defends Britain’s work-life balance

The
Institute of Directors (IoD) claims that work-life balance protagonists often
distort the truth about the workplace to push through an agenda for changing
work practices.

In
a short paper, Work-Life Balance Revisited, the IoD said that the work-life
balance protagonists frequently asserted some highly selective and distorted
claims about the British workplace.

These
are:


"That Britain has a long hours culture which is endemic, imposed and
resented and that Britain is full of overworked workaholics." But, the IoD
says, official data shows that the average hours per week for a full-time male
worker is less than 40 (less than 35 hours for women) and surveys show that
most long hours workers do so voluntarily, to further their careers and/or earn
more money.


“The workplace makes people unhappy and ill”. The IoD says survey evidence
reveals most employees are satisfied with their workplace, and see work as a
positive part of their lives. And, employed people tend to be happier,
healthier and better off than the unemployed.


“Current working practices are inflexible and unacceptable”. The IoD says the
British employer is one of the most flexible in the world, with more than 40
per cent of working women working part-time compared with an EU average of 28
per cent.

Ruth
Lea, head of the policy unit and author of the paper, said: “Everyone should be
able to balance their work, home and family lives satisfactorily. British
employers know this and are some of the most flexible in the world. But the
work-life balance protagonists ignore this and run an anti-business agenda that
seems hell-bent on demonising the workplace with a collection of, for want of a
better phrase, ‘urban myths’. These urban myths are gross distortions of the
truth but, alas, they go unchallenged all too often.

“Unfortunately,
the work-life balance agenda is behind many of the Government’s family-friendly
regulations, which make it ever harder to run a business. Perhaps it wouldn’t
be so bad if they were the only extra employment regulations introduced by a
highly interventionist government – but they’re not.”

By Quentin Reade

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