Fictional case study 2: reconciling shift work and childcare

Step 1: Understand the dynamics

Agneta is 23 years old and has three children under the age of 5. She works part-time in a local shop, and her husband works shifts in a local factory. They live in a small rural town, with a monthly income of EUR 1 300. They will not be able to access publicly funded childcare for all of their children. Currently, they can access some provision for their eldest child. Yet, sometimes, Agneta’s hours change and the family has to rely on friends when both she and her husband are working. Their parents live an hour away by car and public transport to their village is very limited.

Getting the data on how many people are in such precarious circumstances of low wages and unstable employment conditions is not always straightforward. Tools such as EIGE’s Gender Equality Index can help, as do local sources of labour market data, housing and child benefit statistics, public transport availability, time use, and data on the use of infrastructure and public spaces.

Data on EU averages are not always comprehensive, but it is possible to identify some data that offer comparisons between countries and regions. This allows you to aggregate and estimate local needs in the context of local services, existing public services and social security. Look at the example of rural Germany, where transport, local employment, industrial sectors, local transport and local service provision all informed operational plans in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Here, ESF interventions identified support for shift workers and other families with complex, everyday pressures on time, childcare and other care needs as key priorities.

Step 2: Identify gender-aware actions and responses

 From the range of possible interventions under the ESF+ and/or ERDF for work-life balance, what ESF+ and ERDF funded actions would make a difference to this family, supporting them to access childcare and secure better-paid jobs that balance shift work and local transport issues?

Step 3: Take action

  • Infrastructure for early childhood education and care
  • Infrastructure for vocational education, training and adult learning
  • Measures to improve access to employment
  • Measures to promote women’s labour market participation and reduce gender-based segregation in the labour market
  • Promoting the social integration of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion, including the most deprived and children
  • Under policy objective 4, possible investment in the construction of childcare and social care facilities, as well as the expansion of the care workforce