Sustainable work throughout the life course: national policies and strategies

Commissioned by Eurofound, the overall purpose of the study was to provide a comprehensive analysis of the programmes and policies that contribute to making work sustainable throughout the life course. Four key domains of sustainable work were addressed: career and employment protection, health and well-being of workers, the work-life balance, as well as skills development and life-long learning.

In particular, the study aimed at answering the following questions:

  • What policies help to achieve sustainable work?
  • How are these policies implemented within countries?
  • Are policies integrated in a coherent framework? What interaction exists between different topics and policy areas? Are there stronger and weaker or even contradictory elements in the policy agenda?
  • How can policymakers better deliver sustainable work policies and outcomes?

Overall, the project entailed 10 case studies on how Member States approach the issue of sustainable work: the evidence was drawn from Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Seven national reports were implemented by PPMI and its country experts, with additional three carried out by Eurofound. Based on the extensive desk research (including policy documents, legal acts, academic papers, statistical data), case studies also included around 10 interviews per country with some of the key stakeholders. In addition, the research team at PPMI prepared the final consolidated report which described the interaction between different topics and policy areas, and provided a comparative policy assessment as well as key policy messages.

The study highlighted the role of state policies, company-level practices as well as collective agreements in achieving longer working lives; advocated for additional skills development and working time flexibility for older workers; expressed the need for developing policy approaches that encourage combining care with active participation in the labour market; and called for policies aiming at equal employment opportunities for both male and female workers. In addition, it underlined the importance of inter-institutional coordination in terms of both horizontal and issue-specific policies.

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