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Labour Weekend fitting to talk work-life balance

Labour Weekend fitting time to talk work-life balance

Skill shortages mean employers who can offer creative ways for staff to achieve better work-life balance will play an important part in attracting and retaining the best people, Labour Minister Margaret Wilson said today.

“People with skills can work anywhere in the world. If they do not like the working conditions, they can leave,” she said. “If we want to attract skilled talent from overseas and retain staff in New Zealand we need to seriously look at work-life balance issues.”

Announcing the start of a major consultation exercise as part of the Government’s programme to develop policies promoting work-life balance, Margaret Wilson said there was growing evidence that introducing work-life balance policies could be a “win win” situation for employers and employees.

“Employers are reporting benefits such as improved recruitment and retention rates, reduced absenteeism and increased job satisfaction as a result of their policies. The EEO Trust’s Work and Life awards show us there are already enlightened businesses out there in New Zealand who are starting to reap the benefits of operating work-life balance policies.”

The consultation talks aim to tap into the kind of things that help people balance the demands of paid work and life outside of work. The initial consultation round will be with key stakeholder and community organisations, followed by discussions with a wider public in February next year.

“We want to accurately reflect the different realities people face and to get feedback on factors that help people achieve some measure of work-life balance,” said Margaret Wilson. “We want people to identify examples of good practice that could be of use to others and to tell us about it.”

Margaret Wilson said given Labour Day originated with the introduction of the 40-hour working week, it was timely to reflect on modern working practices.

“Knowing how New Zealanders, employers or employees, are managing work and life balance issues now and into the future is a critical ingredient to ensuring New Zealand continues to be a great place to live and work.”

The Government was looking for an overall outcome of improved work-life balance for all New Zealanders and was open to ideas about the best way to achieve this, Margaret Wilson said. The first phase of the process involved identifying available information on work-life balance policies and practices in New Zealand and overseas.

“In the coming months there will be a major stock take of the many ways in which people achieve work-life balance and how government policies and practices can be enhanced to provide further support.”

The government will consider policy options based on material gathered and the findings from the consultation process.

An inter-agency steering group chaired by the Department of Labour has been set up to develop and co-ordinate the work-life balance programme. More details about the work-life balance project are available on the website: http://www.dol.govt.nz/worklife

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