Flexible work arrangements in collective agreements: evidence from Spain and the Netherlands

Carla Brega*, Janna Besamusca, Mara Yerkes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Collective labour agreements are an understudied yet key aspect of flexible work policies, which are crucial resources for workers in combining work, family and other life domains. Despite a rich comparative work-family literature on flexible work arrangements at the company and national levels, little attention has been given to those negotiated collectively. Evidence on this topic is needed because such agreements can complement low levels of provision or even compensate the absence of company or national-level arrangements, ultimately defining their access. We contribute in filling this gap by conducting a cross-sectoral comparative exploration of collectively bargained provisions of flexible work arrangements in Spain and the Netherlands. We examine the clauses of 209 agreements using unique collective bargaining data from WageIndicator (2021). The analyses illustrate two important aspects of collectively bargained ‘family-friendly’ provisions. First, how differences in national baseline legislation shape opportunity structures for collective innovation around flexible work arrangements. Second, how sectoral variations appear to be primarily influenced by the representation of workers in high-skilled jobs, particularly when supported by high union density, rather than the share of female workers. We discuss the implications of these findings for workers’ work-family reconciliation and future work-family research.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunity, Work and Family
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Jun 2024


  • Collective agreements
  • flexible work arrangements
  • Spain
  • The Netherlands
  • work-family policy


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