The Work, Autonomy, Flexibility and Work-Life Balance (WAF) Project today releases its first working paper by principal investigator Heejung Chung.
This paper examines the provision of flexitime in companies across a number of European countries. The results show that company composition, structure and agency factors all play a role in explaining the provision of flexitime. However, the factors explaining the provision of flexitime within each country are not necessarily the same as those explaining how companies provide it to employees.
Cross-national variance in the provision of flexitime in 2009 can be explained mostly through national level demand: female labour market participation rates, cultural norms on work, as well as the affluence of the country. This is a change from 2004, where the most important factors explaining the provision of flexitime were government efforts in providing family policy and the size of the public sector.
Overall, this paper shows that the more relevant factors in explaining why companies provide flexitime, especially as related to cross-national differences, seem to be based on the demand for such policies and the available resources to meet the demands.
This new report from Eurofound notes that the take-up rate of parental and paternity leave among fathers has been increasing across the EU but remains relatively low. This report looks at:
Trends in terms of take-up of parental and paternity leave
Factors influencing take-up rates.
It also explores initiatives recently implemented by national authorities, governments and social partners to promote the take-up of parental and paternity leave, particularly among fathers.
It finds that while only three EU member states provide no paternal leave, it remains that where it is provided entitlements and benefits vary widely. This means that, in practice, “under the current parental and paternity leave regulations, children born in different countries have different chances of spending some time with their fathers in the first days of their lives”.
The report suggests that to increase take up of paternal leave, certain issues must be address. These include:
Wage replacement rates
Greater flexibility in terms of sharing and taking leave over time
Increased availability of information to potential leave takers and employers
Flexible return to work policies.
The report concludes by noting that promotion of equal uptake of leave by both parents will greatly contribute to a more equal participation of women and men in employment.
This report starts by noting that there is a ‘significant’ gap in male and female employment across Europe. It argues that this means economies are failing to utilise their full potential. In particular it highlights:
Low rates of female employment, which effects economic output.
A high prevalence of women working below their ‘qualification grade’, which might have effects in terms of a sub-optimal allocation of skills across an economy.
Underemployment in terms of hours – particularly a persistent yet variable gap in working hours between men and women across typical life phases, which raises issues of productivity, staff retention and recruitment costs at the level of the firm.
The report looks at how flexible working options may play a part in addressing such negative outcomes. Furthermore, it also examines the challenges and opportunities that increased flexible working might offer. Findings include:
Increased part-time work and employee schedule control can be associated with an increased female employment rate.
The concentration of part-time work in low-level jobs may increase the tendency for women to work in occupations below their skill level.
Part-time work is often the main flexible working option, possibly leading to: unnecessarily low average working hours among new mothers, and mothers’ average working hours continuing to remain low throughout their careers.
High-levels of demand for a larger range of flexible working options among working women.
The OECD has been working for over a decade to identify the best ways to measure the progress of societies.
To this end, the OECD has identified 11 dimensions as being essential to well-being, from health and education to local environment, personal security and overall satisfaction with life, as well as more traditional measures such as income. This includes issues such as work-life balance, the quality of employment and well-being in the workplace.
Using these measure, the OECD has produced two core products:
The Better Life Index allows users to compare their own priorities for well-being against data for all OECD countries, plus Brazil and the Russian Federation.
The How’s Life report responds to a demand from citizens, analysts and for better and more comparable information on people’s well-being and societal progress.
It demonstrates that though schedule flexibility was associated with less employee stress, the associations between these factors were mediated by perceptions of negative work–family spillover.
Schedule flexibility reduced negative work–family spillover and stress among women, single parents, and employees with heavier family workloads. As such, the authors maintain this supports schedule flexibility as a means of reducing stress for those employees with family responsibilities.
Jang, Soo Jung; Zippay, Allison; Park, Rhokeun (2012) “Family Roles as Moderators of the Relationship Between Schedule Flexibility and Stress” Journal of Marriage and Family, 74
Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2012.00984.x/abstract
This study argues that flexible working arrangements will have different outcomes based on gender.
The author demonstrates that working time flexibility and autonomy improve time adequacy for women. However, men tend to experience overtime and work intensification in connection with working time autonomy.
Lott, Yvonne (2014) “Working time flexibility and autonomy: Facilitating time adequacy? A European perspective” Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI) Diskussionspapier 188, Hans-Böckler-Foundation, Düsseldorf
90% of employees agreed that having more choice in working arrangements improves morale
35% of employees felt that people who work flexibly create more work for others
The availability of flexible working was important for 41% of employees when they made their decision to work for their current employer.
Those with flexible working arrangements were more likely to work long hours, suggesting that such practices facilitate greater labour market involvement.
Tipping, Sarah; Chanfreau, Jenny; Perry, Jane; Tait, Claire (2012) The Fourth Work-Life Balance Employee Survey, Employment Relations Research Series 122, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
The authors advance a “stress of higher status” hypothesis in relation to the distribution of work-family/work-life conflict. This hypothesis suggests that schedule control is usually for professionals and higher status workers who normally present a higher commitment to work, work longer hours, and blur boundaries allowing for easier permeability of work into non-work settings. Schedule control thus may have negative influence on work-family conflict. This hypothesis is supported by US data.
Schieman, Scott; Glavin, Paul; Melike, Melissa (2009) “When Work Interferes with Life: Work-Nonwork Interference and the Influence of Work-Related Demands and Resources” American Sociological Review, 74(6)
Drawing on data from the United States, this paper explores issues around autonomy and schedule control in the workplace.
It demonstrates that schedule control increases both the frequencies of bringing work home and work contact outside of normal working hours. This is especially the case for men. For both men and women, job autonomy is associated with more work being brought home. For men only, job autonomy is associated with increased work contact.
Schedule control and job autonomy also have implications for role-blurring and work-family conflict: work contact is positively associated with work-family conflict among individuals with low job autonomy, while bringing work home is associated positively with work-family conflict among individuals with greater schedule control.
Schieman, Scott; Glavin; Paul (2008) “Trouble at the Border?: Gender, Flexibility at Work, and the Work-Home Interface” Social Problems, 55(4)
Drawing on UK data, the authors demonstrate that for couples who both enjoy flexible working schedules is greater spouse synchronization in daily working times by nearly one hour. They argue that the expansion of flexitime would increase couples’ work time coordination.
Bryan, Mark; Sanz, Almudena (2014) Flexible Working and Couples’ Coordination of Time Schedules, Discussion Paper 8304, IZA