Telework for family life-work reconciliation in the EU: promoting women participation and mobility - WOMEN IN, is a project currently funded by the European Commission, the Leonardo da Vinci programme and the Transfer of innovation subprogramme. It is being implemented between October 2011 and September 2013.

The project is based on results of a previous highly successful project ‘Telework for the family life-work reconciliation of Spanish women’ (El teletrabajo en la conciliación de la vida familiar y laboral de las mujeres españolas, ref. TSI-040100-2008-10), financed by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce within the framework of ‘Plan Avanza’, subprogramme ‘Digital citizenship’ and the European Social Fund.

In the WOMEN IN project, seven highly experienced partners from six European countries are developing an interactive online environment to encourage women’s participation in the labour market through telework. UGT Euskadi (ES) is the project promoter, Inveslan (ES) the project coordinator, while other partners come from BEST (AT), EEDE (EL), Infoart (BG), Gingerbread (UK) and INCSMPS (RO). The project provides women with essential transversal skills and key competences on teleworking. At the same time, the project aims at promoting teleworking as a workplace flexibility programme at institutional level, in line with the EU-2020 concept of flexicurity and its potential benefits for the company. The online environment will provide direct access to an innovative autodiagnostic tool labelled WHILE, designed training itineraries and best practices.

To extend the concept of teleworking at European level, a comparative analysis on flexible workplace and teleworking policies in partner countries was carried out by project partners. The analysis offers conclusions and recommendations for actions to foster women’s participation in teleworking.

For the purposes of this comparative analysis, the Romanian partner (INCSMPS) has been carrying out research on participation of women in the labour market, women and teleworking, the implementation of work-life reconciliation programmes, women’s use of new technologies, and training needs/qualifications for teleworking. Results of research undertaken so far have shown telework as a poorly developed option for the reconciliation between work and family life in Romania, and therefore a minor factor for increasing participation of women in the labour market. So far, Romania has not adopted any specific legislation on telework, nor have the social partners made any significant forays on the matter. For this type of work, the only applicable rules are those contained in the chapter on ‘domicile work’ of the country’s labour code.

Scrutinising the few available statistical data, the study concludes that Romanian women have the potential to perform well as teleworkers (62% of women aged 16-74 surveyed by the RO partner have used a computer every day or almost every day). In addition, there is today a particularly favourable climate with scores of projects targeting women to encourage their participation in the labour market, as well as in education and training.

In the next stages of the project, the Romanian partner will contribute to the development of a self-diagnostic tool for key competences required by telework as an innovative way of work organization; the tool will be available in the Romanian language and will enable the design of a training itinerary for telework-related transversal skills. The online environment created will be a platform allowing learning, networking, innovation and the sharing of good practices in relation to telework and its potential for reconciling work and family life.