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The Issue of Work-Life Balance in Bulgaria Siyka Kovacheva University of Plovdiv Bulgaria.

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Presentation on theme: "The Issue of Work-Life Balance in Bulgaria Siyka Kovacheva University of Plovdiv Bulgaria."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Issue of Work-Life Balance in Bulgaria Siyka Kovacheva University of Plovdiv Bulgaria

2 During communism The issues of integrating work and family life were largely absent from public discourse. The official ideology stressed woman’s triple role in society: productive worker, selfless wife and mother, and devoted participant in public (political) events. Women worked full time and the decline of the birthrate since the 1960s prompted the creation of a network of public kindergartens and the introduction of paid maternity leave.

3 During the transition after 1989 The dominant anti-state ideology proclaimed the the end of all privileges (including those for women under state family policy). With the rising unemployment there was an increased pressure for a retreat to more traditional gender roles presented as ‘expansion of choices’. Places in public childcare declined, child benefits lost their value and the parental leave was further prolonged.

4 Quality of Life Study in Bulgar ia Part of the comparative research project ‘Quality of life in a changing Europe’ Paper-based survey (spring 2007) at four companies (bank, hospital, supermarket, telecom) with 789 respondents In-depth interviews with managers and focus groups with working parents biographical interviews with selected men and women

5 The concept of work-life balance Social construct of the combination of individual’s multiple roles in different life domains. Not only individual perception of being able to manage one’s roles in a self-fulfilling way but also wider social influences from households, companies, welfare state. Not only negative (lack of conflict) but also positive interface (enrichment). Bi-directional influence – from work to family life but also from family care to paid work.

6 Indicators of work-family balance  Stress from work and family life  Work-family interference  Work-family enrichment  Satisfaction with work-family balance

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8 The institutional context Long working hours for both men and women average number of working hours per week Low flexibility of work (2.5% working part-time and 6.4% working from home) 410 days paid parental leave (at 90% of the earnings) plus 1 year parental leave paid at a fixed sum plus one year unpaid leave Parents can take up to 60 days for paid leave to care for a six child. Difficulties finding a place in public kindergartens and especially crèches.

9 The organizational context Companies did not provide work-family policies in addition to the statutory measures. Employees tended to reduce the use of family policy to express loyalty to the company Cost-efficiency as dominant concern in organisational cultures, informal social capital as most important for working parents. OLS regression showed a strong negative impact of job insecurity and working overtime at a short notice and a positive impact of team work and work autonomy.

10 The family context Satisfaction with household income, health of family members, availability of childcare and understanding partner contributed to WFB. Having an unemployed partner at home had a negative impact on WLB. The number of children did not make a difference. Both partners working full time with men expected to invest more in career and women more in unpaid care at home. The practice of high support with childcare from the extended family.

11 Individual strategies

12 Policy implications Holistic integrated approach of the policy in support of work-life balance and quality of life Flexible measures fitting diverse individual and family situations Greater involvement of trade unions and parental organizations in the development of these policies Programmes encouraging real social equality (many measures reproduce traditional gender inequalities) Concerted efforts to influence societal, organizational and individual values to acknowledge the interdependency between quality of work and quality of family life.


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