The notion of balance might be difficult to define as it is a subjective concept. It is increasingly accepted that leisure and physical activity are important for a healthy life. Is it possible to ensure space for those activities if work occupies the biggest space in our life?

80. The first tennis court in Bulgaria, built in a factory of the owner of the first private water power plant. Ca. 1920. Interactive Museum of Industry, Gabrovo, Bulgaria.


We are generally close to those with whom we share affinities and our hobbies. Those can be found both in professional and personal settings. Do professional and personal spheres need to be apart to achieve a work-life balance?

81. Holiday in one of the wool textile factories. Early XX century. Interactive Museum of Industry, Gabrovo, Bulgaria.

Work-life balance refers to the state of equilibrium between an employee’s work and private life, including family responsibilities (domestic tasks) and other interests and hobbies.

Despite the increasing presence of women in the labour market, care and housework remain primarily feminine responsibilities, with a negative impact on women’s employment.

Therefore, when reconciling family responsibilities (taking care of children or elderly dependents and domestic tasks) with work becomes harder, and women tend to reduce the number of working hours, while some are forced to drop out of the labour market completely. This resource allocation, however, has a negative reflection on social security contributions and pension entitlements, worsened by generally lower wages for women.

That is the reason why the EU establishes work-life balance for workers across the life course as a policy goal, focused on the achievement of gender equality by promoting the participation of women in the labour market and equal sharing of caring responsibilities between men and women. Additionally, the EU considers part of work life balance the protection of all workers against discrimination or any less favourable treatment related to them by the use of the family protection measures.

Within the EU legal framework, family protection instruments like paternity, parental, and carers’ leave aim to break gender stereotypes and differences between work and care. In addition, EU legislation provides for flexible working arrangements, including remote working arrangements, flexible working schedules, or reduced working hours, to allow workers to adjust their working patterns to their family responsibilities.

Nonetheless, to be successful and inclusive, these protection instruments need to be sufficiently well remunerated to promote de facto gender equality, and the non- discriminatory measures that go along with them need to be effective, which also depends on affordable childcare and long-term care services.