Work Life Balance: How Employers can Support Employees

Work-life balance is a concept that holds different meanings for different individuals. While some associate it with working fewer hours, others believe flexibility in working hours is key. However, the common thread is the desire for a balance that allows individuals to excel both professionally and personally. It is crucial for employers to understand the significance of a work-life balance and their role in supporting employees to achieve it. In this blog, I will explore the legal rights of employees, the duty of care employers have, and strategies to promote work-life balance in the workplace.

Understanding Employees’ Statutory Rights

Employees have certain statutory rights that employers must uphold to ensure a healthy work-life balance. These rights, outlined in the Working Time Regulations 1998, include rest periods, paid holiday entitlement, and limitations on working hours.

Rest Periods

To promote employee well-being, employers must allow their workers the following rest periods:

  • 11 hours of uninterrupted rest per day.
  • 24 hours of uninterrupted rest per week (or 48 hours per fortnight).
  • A rest break of 20 minutes when working more than six hours per day.

It is important to note that there are limited exemptions to these rights, and workers cannot contract out of them.

Paid Holiday Entitlement

Most employees who fall within the legal definition of a worker are entitled to 5.6 weeks (28 days) of paid holiday each year, pro-rated for part-time workers. This ensures that employees have the opportunity to take time off and rejuvenate, contributing to a better work-life balance.

Limitations on Working Hours

To protect the health and safety of workers, employers must ensure that each employee’s average working time, including overtime and work with other employers, does not exceed 48 hours per week. While many employees choose to opt out of this provision, conscientious employers should consider the original intent of the legislation – safeguarding workers’ wellbeing.

By adhering to these statutory rights, employers create an environment that promotes work-life balance and protects the health and safety of their employees.

The Employer’s Duty of Care

Employers have a duty of care towards their employees, extending to their health, safety, and overall wellbeing. This duty includes ensuring that employees are not working excessive hours, as research has linked long working hours and excessive workloads to mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression. It is crucial for employers to recognise and address these concerns, as mental health conditions can even be classified as disabilities.

When mental health conditions qualify as disabilities, employers may be required to make reasonable adjustments to support employees, such as reducing their hours or workload. Failure to make these adjustments can result in claims of disability discrimination and constructive dismissal. Employers also face the risk of accidents or further mental health issues arising from excessive working hours.

Ensuring healthy working practices not only helps fulfil legal obligations but also enhances job satisfaction, increases employee productivity, and fosters a positive work environment. By prioritising work-life balance, employers can build loyalty, improve employee retention, and contribute to the overall success of their organisation.

Strategies to Support Work-Life Balance

To support employees in achieving a healthy work-life balance, employers can implement various strategies and practices. Here are some examples:

Regular Communication and Workload Management

Regular communication with employees is essential to ensure they are given an achievable workload and are completing their tasks within a reasonable amount of time. Managers should engage in conversations to understand any additional support employees may require, which may contribute to a better work-life balance.

Monitoring working hours and email flow within teams can also help identify potential issues. Managers should be mindful of the times emails are being sent and have open discussions with their teams about working hours.

Flexible Working Arrangements

Implementing flexible working arrangements can significantly contribute to work-life balance. Employers can consider provisions such as:

  • Flexitime: Allowing employees to choose their start and finish times within defined core hours.
  • Remote Work: Enabling employees to work from home or other locations to accommodate personal needs.
  • Reduced Hours: Offering part-time options or job-sharing arrangements.
  • Compressed Work Week: Allowing employees to work longer hours over fewer days.

By providing flexibility, employers empower employees to manage their work and personal responsibilities effectively.


Work-life balance is pivotal for well-being and productivity. Employers, bound by legal and ethical responsibility, must support employees. Upholding statutory rights, fulfilling the duty of care, and implementing balance-promoting strategies create a positive work environment. Prioritising work-life balance benefits individuals and contributes to organisational success.

To discuss this or any other related matter, please call Jane, start a live chat or email us at

*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


Jane Crosby

Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution & Accredited Mediator

Jane is a Partner based in the Guildford office and she is also Head of the Dispute Resolution team here at Hart Brown. Jane specialises...

Jane Crosby -Head of Dispute Resolution

Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution & Accredited Mediator

Jane Crosby

Jane is a Partner based in the Guildford office and she is also Head of the Dispute Resolution team here at Hart Brown. Jane specialises in employment Law and commercial litigation and brings more than 15 years' experience to her role.

Prior to entering the legal profession, Jane was employed in the aviation industry. This experience is appreciated by many of Jane's clients who note that she is able to take a commercial and pragmatic approach to any legal issue that they face.

Jane acts for a wide range of individuals and businesses and her areas of specialism include aviation, property related industries and IT. Jane regularly advises on aspects of employment law, such as settlement agreements, employment contracts, policies and procedures, redundancies, equal pay, data protection, issues arising from TUPE and reorganisations, the calculation of holiday pay, bonus and commission payments, disciplinary and grievance issues, dismissal and termination issues, the protection of confidential information and the enforcement of restrictive covenants. Jane gets involved in GDPR training for her clients and she is able to deliver tailored employment law training sessions upon request.

As a commercial litigation lawyer, Jane also deals in shareholder and directors disputes, commercial contract disputes and the enforcement of restrictive covenants.

Jane has been involved in successful high value commercial litigation for clients in the High Courts, she is an accredited mediator and she is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association.

Jane is often asked to write for a number of well known publications, including The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Week and she has been interviewed on BBC Radio 4.

Here is small selection of the feedback that Jane has received:

“Jane, I cannot sincerely thank you enough for your wise counsel and am delighted to have made your acquaintance. If I am blessed with a new position somewhere I will hand over my contract in the first instance to you. Likewise, any of my friends, peers, romans and countrymen wanting advice, I will point them in your direction.”

“Jane, you have been most resilient on my behalf for which I sincerely thank you for all your endeavours. I have a tremendous working relationship with Hart Brown and you have undoubtedly compounded this further."

“I appreciated the clarity of advice given at a stressful time”.

“A sensitive and highly professional approach and efficient work in the interests of the client”.

“Your advice, conduct and assistance have been indeed outstanding and very professional but also – and most importantly – very humane”.