WORK-LIFE BALANCE

The work-life balance concept is all about achieving the ideal balance between a person’s working life and private life. The objective is to ensure that employees are as happy as possible, which leads to their being more productive and fulfilled at work, a situation that is beneficial to both employees and their employer.

Work-life balance has grown into much more than just an appealing concept. An increasing number of companies are relying on their employees to lead a more balanced lifestyle, because balanced, happy employees are ultimately more productive and motivated. If a company – either consciously or unconsciously – destroys an employee’s private life with too much overtime or an unnatural amount of pressure, it will inevitably result in dissatisfaction and stress that can then lead to health problems, decreased productivity, and alienation from the company.

The Czech Republic’s official working hours are 40 hours per week, and employees get an annual vacation of at least 20 working days.

Free time is important to everybody, including businesspeople, because that is their only chance to recharge their batteries. It is, however, difficult for employees in small or medium-sized enterprises to find enough time because of the difficulties associated with running a business: smaller businesses have fewer employees, and most of the strategic, day-to-day decisions are taken by one person, namely the company director or owner.

If an employee is asked to work overtime, their total working hours must not exceed 52 hours a week (including 8 hours of overtime a week), and there must be a written agreement between both parties about overtime work. In specific situations, a collective agreement may provide that scheduled working time for seasonal jobs may exceed 52 hours, but these are limited to a maximum of 60 hours a week. Generally, these rules are not rigorously enforced at the SME level, where employers and employees are more flexible.

The Czech Republic performs well in many measures of well-being in the Better Life Index. The Czech Republic ranks above average in jobs and earnings, personal security, education and skills, subjective well-being, and work-life balance and social connections. It ranks below average in housing, health status, income and wealth, civic engagement and environmental quality. These rankings are based on available selected data.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In the Czech Republic, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 21 453 a year, lower than the OECD average of USD 33 604 a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20 % of the population earn nearly four times as much as the bottom 20 %.

In terms of employment, 74 % of people aged 15 to 64 in the Czech Republic have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 68 %. Some 81 % of men are in paid work, compared with 66 % of women. In the Czech Republic, almost 6 % of employees work very long hours, less than the 11 % OECD average, with 9 % of men working very long hours compared with just 2 % of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In the Czech Republic, 94 % of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, well above the OECD average of 78 %, one of the highest rates in the OECD. This is truer of men than women, as 95% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 92 % of women. In terms of education quality, the average student scored 491 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This score is higher than the OECD average of 486. On average in the Czech Republic, girls outperformed boys by 4 points, slightly more than the OECD average of 2 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in the Czech Republic is 79 years, one year lower than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 82 years, compared with 76 for men. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 19.5 micrograms per cubic meter, higher than the OECD average of 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter. The Czech Republic also does well in terms of water quality, as 87% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, higher than the OECD average of 81 %.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and moderate levels of civic participation in the Czech Republic, where 91 % of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, in line with the OECD average of 89 %. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 61 % during recent elections, lower than the OECD average of 68 %. Social and economic status can affect voting rates; voter turnout for the top 20 % of the population is an estimated 75 % and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 54 %, a considerably wider gap than the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points, and points to shortcomings in the political mobilisation of the worst-off.

In general, Czechs are slightly more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Czechs gave it a 6.7 grade on average, slightly above the OECD average of 6.5.

For more information on estimates and years of reference, see FAQ section and BLI database.