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The fourth work-life balance employee survey

Published: July 2012


The Work-Life Balance Study (WLBS) was conducted to provide facts and figures about employee's experience of employment, in particular the use and awareness of work-life balance practices.

The 2011 study is the fourth in the series, which began in 2000.


Most employees are aware of the right to work flexibly

75% of all employees are aware of their right to request flexible working. There are higher levels of awareness among parents (79%) than non-parents (73%).

Awareness is higher among those in managerial/professional occupations (85 per cent) and particularly low among those in routine or manual occupations (64 per cent).

Flexible working practices are linked to longer working hours

Those with flexible working practices are more likely to work longer hours than those without (10% compared with 6% among full-time employees).

  • Working longer hours is particularly notable among:
  • full-time employees who regularly work from home (18 per cent working more than 48 hours);
  • part-time employees who work flexitime (19% working 35 to 40 hours);
  • employees with temporarily reduced hours (34% working 35 to 40 hours).

Much overtime is unpaid

48% of employees work overtime in a usual week, of those who indicated whether this overtime was paid or not 49% said it was unpaid. This unpaid work is most likely to be done by those with higher income and in managerial positions.

Not all employees take the leave they are entitled to

24% of employees did not use their full leave entitlement and these employees are more likely to be  men (73 per cent), those on a higher income (59 per cent), those working full-time with a flexible working arrangement (69 per cent) and those with higher qualifications (68 per cent)

Most employees are happy with the current working arrangements

85% are 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied' with their working arrangements. The happiest groups are those working part-time or with a flexible working arrangement.

We are not using up our parental leave entitlement

Only 11% of employees with children under six have used at least some the 13 weeks we are legally entitled to.


Telephone interviews using a sample of randomly generated telephone numbers.

Read the report