Work Life Balance in the Netherlands: Flexible working hours and a flexible working place

Author Name KENJOH Eiko  (Asia University)
Creation Date/NO. March 2011 11-J-030
Research Project International Comparison of Measures to Improve Work-Life Balance and Consideration of Challenges Facing Japanese Companies
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The purpose of this paper is to investigate the nature of Dutch approach to achieving Work Life Balance (WLB) and to draw policy implications for Japan. It is argued that flexibility of working hours and flexibility offered at one's working place are essential elements of WLB. In this respect, the Netherlands has attained relatively advanced policies and practices. For instance, workers in the Netherlands enjoy a strong degree of flexibility in terms of working hours, a system that strives to bring actual working hours close to desired working hours. Furthermore, the country is currently seeking to increase flexibility for workers in the choice of their place of work through the promotion of telework.

First, this paper first positions the Netherlands in a cross-country comparison with other advanced countries—Japan, France, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States —that have adopted different approaches to the labour market and related public policies. Second, the paper presents a theoretical discussion on the flexibility of working hours. Third, it focuses on three important aspects of WLB in the Netherlands, namely, part-time work, family-friendly policies, and telework. Finally, the paper considers WLB policies and work-style practices in the Netherlands based on a hearing survey of four major private-sector companies.