Work-Life Balance


Finding a suitable balance between work and daily living is a challenge that all workers face. Families are particularly affected. The ability to successfully combine work, family commitments and personal life is important for the well-being of all members in a household. Governments can help to address the issue by encouraging supportive and flexible working practices, making it easier for parents to strike a better balance between work and home life.

Employees working long hours

An important aspect of work-life balance is the amount of time a person spends at work. Evidence suggests that long work hours may impair personal health, jeopardise safety and increase stress. At close to 13%, the share of employees working 50 hours or more per week is not very large in the OECD. Turkey is by far the country with the highest proportion of people working very long hours, with close to 41%, followed by Mexico with nearly 29% and Israel with nearly a sixth of employees. Overall, more men work very long hours; the percentage of male employees working very long hours across OECD countries is 17%, compared with 7% for women.

Time devoted to leisure and personal care

Furthermore, the more people work, the less time they have to spend on other activities, such as personal care or leisure. The amount and quality of leisure time is important for people’s overall well-being, and can bring additional physical and mental health benefits. A full-time worker in the OECD devotes 62% of the day on average, or close to 15 hours, to personal care (eating, sleeping, etc.) and leisure (socialising with friends and family, hobbies, games, computer and television use, etc.). Fewer hours in paid work for women do not necessarily result in greater leisure time, as time devoted to leisure is roughly the same for men and women across the 20 OECD countries studied.

Work-Life Balance in Detail by Country