Having time for family and work

Having time for family and work

There is not enough time for the important things in life. In the national dialogue, many people said they do not have enough time for work, family and leisure. People want a better work-life balance, flexible childcare and working hours, more opportunities to work from home, and more time for themselves.

There is not enough time for the important things in life. In the national dialogue, many people said they do not have enough time for work, family and leisure. People want a better work-life balance, flexible childcare and working hours, more opportunities to work from home, and more time for themselves.

Free time is of paramount importance today, especially in a world that keeps filling up with more and more work and stress.
from an online response submitted on 18 August 2015

Family and work – a life in balance

The increased labour market participation of women has brought up a key issue: how partners can ensure a fair division of time for family and work. Men and women are still affected in different ways by the reconciliation of family and work. Men usually work full-time and often longer. Women are more likely to work part-time and interrupt their employment. 70 per cent of working mothers with young children work part-time, but only 6 per cent of the fathers.1

Work can be fun and gratifying and it can help you realise your potential – but it constantly demands more and more of your time.
from the national dialogue event of the Evangelische Landjugendakademie in Altenkirchen on 24 June 2015

The indicator comparison of actual and preferred working hours indicator measures the extent to which people can achieve their preferred working hours. The indicator approximates how satisfied people are with the way they spend their time.

There are still big differences in the actual working hours of men and women, though the gap is narrowing. Actual working hours for both sexes have fallen since 2000, in the case of women this is largely because of the increase in part-time work. The difference between actual and agreed working hours has narrowed a little for men, but it is widening for women.

Preferred, agreed and actual working hours of women and men

Several factors can have an impact on whether people actually work the number of hours they want to work. One of these is whether the working time preferences of employers and employees correspond with each other. For example, is it possible to meet the employee’s desire to have flexible working hours? It also depends on whether working couples can agree on a way of dividing their time between work and family.

How many hours do you work?

Are you happy with your working hours or do you work longer than you really want? Or would you prefer to work longer hours?

In studies such as the Socio-Economic Panel a representative selection of people2 were asked about their preferred working hours.

The data shows how many the actual working hours of people in Germany per week and how long they would prefer to work – for men and women.

Compare your weekly working hours

Enter how many hours you actually work per week and how many hours you prefer to work.

The black circles show your entries on actual and preferred working hours and compare them with the data on actual and preferred working hours for all workers in Germany.

Underneath you will see the share of men and women in Germany who work more or less hours per week than you, along with the share of men and women who prefer to work more or less hours than you.

Source: Calculations by DIW Berlin, SOEPv32.1.

What Does the Government Do?

The federal government is trying to help young parents return to work with its Prospects for Re-entering the Work-Force action programme (Aktionsprogramm Perspektive Wiedereinstieg) and the new Elterngeld Plus parental allowance.

More flexibility for families

Balancing work and family life is a challenge – particularly when both parents are working. The participants in the national dialogue were largely unanimous that more comprehensive childcare and more flexible working hours are the right approach. They also spoke extensively about the need to expand full-time childcare services in schools, daycare centres and after-school centres.

Young people should no longer have to choose between a job and a family. Both should go hand in hand.
from an online response submitted on 22 June 2015

The childcare enrolment rate shows the relation between the number of children cared for in childcare centres or by nannies and the total number of children in a certain age group. The full-time childcare enrolment rate measures the proportion of children who are looked after for at least seven hours on weekdays, whether it is in childcare centres, publicly subsidised day care, after-school clubs or all-day schools. Childcare has a major impact on parents' ability to work, particularly mothers'.

There has been a positive trend since 2006. The full-time childcare enrolment rate for under-3-year-olds increased significantly until 2016. The full-time childcare enrolment rate for 3-to-6-year-olds also improved markedly in this same period. At around 45 per cent, the latter was 2.5 times as high as for the under-3-year-olds.

Full-time childcare enrolment rate
Full-time childcare enrolment rate for children aged under three and those aged three to six by district 2016

There are marked regional differences. In 2016, the full-time childcare enrolment rate in the east German federal states was much higher than in the west German federal states

In 2016, the full-time childcare enrolment rate for children under 3 in the east German federal states was with nearly 40 per cent almost three times higher than in the west German federal states. For children between three and six years, childcare enrolment rates in the east German federal states were with 74 per cent almost twice as high as in the west German federal states with almost 38 per cent.

Between 2009 and 2015, early childhood care for children with migration background also increased. However, in 2015 it was still below the rate for children without migration background. The difference in the under-3-year-age group is particularly striking. Only 22 per cent of children with migration background were looked after in childcare centres or by nannies; for children without migration background the figure was 38 per cent. For children between three and six years the difference in the enrolment rates was seven percentage points (97 compared to 90 per cent).3

The need for care does not stop when children leave kindergarten – indeed, quite the opposite. Chilcare for the primary school-aged children is provided in all-day schools or after-school centres.

Primary school age children in all-day schools
Primary school age children in after-school clubs

The number of children in all-day primary schools increased sharply between the school years 2005/2006 and 2015/2016. In the school year 2015/2016 almost every third child goes to an all-day primary school. In the west German federal states the share increased by one percentage point to 27.5 per cent. In the east German federal states, the share decreased slightly. However, with almost 55 per cent, the share is alomst twice as high as in the west German federal states. Afternoon care in after-school centres also increased. Overall, all-day care across all age groups has increased significantly.

What Does the Government Do?

The efforts of the federal states and the support of the federal government led to the increase in childcare enrolment. The federal government has already done a great deal to improve childcare since the launch of its Future Education and Childcare programme (Zukunft Bildung und Betreuung) in 2003. Since 2015, the federal government has provided federal states and municipalities with 845 million euros of annual funding to help them expand their childcare services. In 2017 and 2018, federal states and municipalities will receive an additional 100 million euros per year for operating and personnel costs. The Federal Government’s KitaPlus programme provides an additional €100 million in funding to childcare facilities.

Looking after children or caring for relatives – a balancing act

Many people in the national dialogue were concerned about having adequate, flexible care opportunities for their children and other family members in need of care. Finding ways of balancing work and care responsibilities is a major challenge for many people, and particularly for women, who still tend to shoulder this burden. A participant in the national dialogue event of the Zentralverband des Deutschen Handwerks in Berlin on 29 June 2015 described this conflict in a nutshell.

Taking care of parents or other relatives used to be a normal thing, but these days people who provide such care are expected to work as well.

People often lack recognition for staying home to look after their children or other relatives, and they can be left behind in their careers. The conflict can be illustrated with the reduced working hours for care responsibilities indicator. Care responsibilities include looking after children and other relatives.

The indicator at least provides a rough measurement of the need for care. More data needs to be collected in order to make more accurate statements about care needs and factors that restrict employment.

Part-time employment due to childcare and other care responsbilities

More and more people are working fewer hours because of care responsibilities. This proportion grew from 17 to 25 per cent between 2006 and 2016. The overwhelming majority of respondents said the main reason for reducing their working hours was to look after their children.

Non-employment due to childcare and other care responsibilities

The number of people who have completely given up work because of childcare and other care responsibilities has also increased. In 2006, 8 of 100 respondents reported that they have completely given up work because of childcare and other care responsibilities. In 2016 it was 12 of 100 respondents.

It is generally women who shoulder these responsibilities. In future demographic change will make the situation more acute. More people are facing the challenge of having to reconcile their work and care responsibilities.

What Does the Government Do?

The federal government has increased funding for home-care and assistance services as well as for nursing homes. The government's focus is also on relieving the burden on caretakers who look after family members. Since 1 January 2015, employees have been given more flexibility and security so that they can look after family members themselves.

Long commutes, less time

Many people feel their commute to work is simply lost time. It is time that is taken away from their work, family and leisure time. Work needs to be much more flexible and mobile. Improvements to roads, rail and cycle paths and the expansion of technology such as fast, nationwide broadband and mobile phone connections, can all reduce the need for long commutes and increase wellbeing.

Today’s technologies could easily enable more flexible working hours and more teleworking options in many professions.
from an online response submitted on 26 June 2015

The proportion of employed persons in Germany whose commute is longer than 30 minutes. is used as an indicator for commuting time.

Persons in employment commuting more than 30 minutes

In Germany there is a trend towards longer commuting times. About 27 per cent of employees in Germany travelled more than 30 minutes to work each day in 2016. Almost one in 20 workers in Germany is a long-distance commuter, i.e. almost 1.6 million people travel more than one hour to work every day.

At the same time, fewer and fewer people in Germany are willing to move house in order to accommodate their job. They want to stay in their familiar surroundings, so they are prepared to put up with longer commuting times. Commuting is clearly an individual choice. But the state can create conditions that makes it easier, even for long-distance commuters.

In metropolitan areas and the city states (Berlin, Bremen und Hamburg) the trend is shifting from cars to public transport and bicycles. In the rural areas it is the other way round: more and more commuters are driving to work, often because there is a lack of good public transport options.

Types of transport used by commuters 2000 and 2016

The majority of commuters who travel more than an hour to work go by train, and this trend is upwards. But a great many long-distance commuters still use their cars.

What Does the Government Do?

With its Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan 2030 (Bundesverkehrswegeplan), the federal government is investing in and modernising the transport infrastructure to improve mobility in cities and rural areas. It is also promoting flexible working in order to improve the lives of commuters. The Work 4.0 Dialogue Process (Arbeit 4.0) provides the basis for a white paper to define measures for modern working.

Footnotes

  1. 1

    Klenner, C. and Lillemeier, S. (2015): Gender News: Große Unterschiede in den Arbeitszeiten von Männern und Frauen. WSI Report 22/2015.

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  2. 2

    The statistics distinguish between the general population and the sample. When applied to Germany's resident population the general population includes everyone who lives in Germany on a particular reporting date. A sample is when certain people are selected from the general population, for example for the purposes of a survey. This selection process is random, so the survey participants are not determined in advance. A basic law of statistics states that conclusions about the general population can be drawn based on an adequately large sample.

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  3. 3

    Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung (2016): Bildung in Deutschland 2016. Ein indikatorengestützter Bericht mit einer Analyse zu Bildung und Migration. Bertelsmann: Bielefeld. Für die Daten zur Bildungsbeteiligung von unter Sechsjährigen in Tageseinrichtungen und Tagespflege vgl. S. 170 f.

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