Tag Archives: National Context

Working Paper 1: The Provision of Flexitime

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.

You can download the full working paper here.

Flexible Jobs Index – Timewise

Employers are failing to overtly offer prospective employees flexible working options, and this is causing a ‘talent bottleneck’. While 46% of people in employment in the UK want some kind of flexible working, only 6% of vacancy listings specify flexible options.

So few job adverts mention flexible working that 77% of flexible workers feel trapped in their current role – halting career progression.  Moreover, those seeking flexible work ‘trade down’, 41% of flexible workers taking employment below their skill or salary level in order to get the flexibility they need.

Research shows that 52% of those looking for flexible work feel nervous to ask for flexibility when it isn’t specified in the advert; 43% fear asking will damage their chances of getting the job.

By not being proactive in opening jobs to those seeking flexible work, employers are cutting themselves off from some of the best available talent

Read more at Timewise.

Promoting uptake of parental and paternity leave among fathers in the European Union – Eurofound

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
  • Existing provisions
  • 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.

Read more at Eurofound.

Autonomy in flexibilized working time schemes? Factors that inhibit autonomy and where it succeeds

Working in bed at the weekend

Yvonne Lott, of the Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Institut (WSI) in Germany, questions whether working time flexibility can really deliver employee autonomy. 

Flexibility in working time makes it possible to reconcile work with the affairs of private life. Whether this is caring for children or elderly parents, or pursuing a qualification alongside work – flexible working times give employees freedom to organize their time. In particular when employees can themselves determine how to organize their working time, their autonomy at work can seem unlimited. Self-determination of work schedules promises control over one’s own working time and thus autonomy over one’s time in general. Employees with such working times should, then, have relatively stress-free (work) lives. Right? I am skeptical. Continue reading

OECD Better Life Intiative

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.

Visit the OECD Better Life Index.

View the 2013 How’s Life report.

Why U.S. Women Are Leaving Jobs Behind – New York Times

This article notes that while the United States had one of the top employment rates in the world for women, this has now fallen behind many European countries. The percentage of women in the American work force peaked in 1999, at 74% for those between 25 and 54. It has since fallen, to 69%. The article notes that while the economic downturn of recent years has eliminated many jobs, a lack of family-friendly policies also appears to have contributed to the lower rate.

Survey data shows that 61% of non-working women weren’t in employment due to family responsibilities, compared to 37% of non-working men. Of the women who identify as ‘homemakers’, and who have not looked for a job in the last year, nearly three-quarters would consider going back if a job offered flexible hours or allowed them to work from home.

Furthermore, there are different perceptions of non-working for men and women, and women’s experiences are more likely to reported positively than men. Women are more likely to say that not working has improved their romantic relationships and spend more time exercising than they once did. Men, meanwhile, report negative impacts on their romantic relationships and exercise less.

Yet, many women remain interested in working again, assuming the right prevailing conditions. Particularly important is the flexibility to avoid upending their family life. For many US women with children, the decision about whether to work involves weighing a particularly complex set of benefits and drawbacks. The issues, however, are often insurmountable as the United States has a dearth of programs and policies to support women in work, such as subsidized childcare, parental leaves and taxation of individuals instead of families, which are common in Europe.

The article argues that while the extensive benefits and employment protections granted the European workers has had economic impacts on job markets, the US approach of flexible labour markets with few benefits also has it’s costs, also: ” The free market leaves many families, particularly many women, struggling to find a solution that combines work and home life.”

Read more at the New York Times.

Non-standard work arrangements and national context – Kassinis and Stavrou

Using a sample of 1,893 companies across 15 countries, the authors examine the relationship between public expenditure on national family-leave policies, employment legislation and culture, and use of flexible working.

They find that these three areas of expenditure influence the use of flexible working, but that this depends on both context and type of flexible working. As such, they stress that researchers should consider both the national and institutional environments when designing and interpreting research on flexible working.

Kassinis, George I.; Stavrou, Eleni T. (2013) “Non-standard work arrangements and national context” European Management Journal, 31

Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0263237313000479

National context in work-life research: A multi-level cross-national analysis of the adoption of workplace work-life arrangements in Europe – Den Dulk et al.

This article examines the interaction between nation-level and organization-level variables in the provision of flexible working arrangements (FWA).

It finds that provision of FWA was positively associated with state support for combining work and family life. States where work assumed ‘cultural centrality’ were negatively associated with the provision of FWA.

Public sector and large organizations were more sensitive to state support and the cultural centrality of work than smaller and private sector organisations. Organisations with a greater proportion of female employees were less sensitive to state support.

The authors suggest that these findings demonstrate that organisational policies are affected by the national contexts in which they’re embedded, though organisational sensitivity may differ.

Den Dulk, Laura; Groeneveld, Sandra; Ollier-Malaterre, Ariane; Valcour, Monique (2013) “National context in work-life research: A multi-level cross-national analysis of the adoption of workplace work-life arrangements in Europe” European Management Journal, 31

Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0263237313000704

Contesting Time: International Comparisons of Employee Control of Working Time – Peter Berg et al.

Drawing from interviews with managers, public sector policy-makers and administrators, and union leaders, this article demonstrates that workers‘ control over working time is affected by

  • the institutional and regulatory environment within the country
  • labor market conditions
  • management and labor union strategies

Employees in countries, such as Germany, Sweden and Netherlands, with extensive collective bargaining, high labour union density/coverage, and labour representatives focussed on working time issues, have increased collective control over working time.

Employee control over working time is unevenly distributed in countries with weaker labour institutions, and tends to reflect more closely the employers interests.

Berg, Peter; Appelbaum, Eileen; Bailey, Tom; and Kalleberg, Arne L. (2004) “Contesting Time: International Comparisons of Employee Control of Working Time” Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 57(3)

Available at: http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/ilrreview/vol57/iss3/1

The Flex Time Ruse – Slate

A lack of family-friendly workplace policies in the USA is partly to blame for a fall in women’s labour force participation relative to other OECD countries, declining from sixth in 1990 to 17th. However, US female workers are more likely to be in full-time and higher-level managerial positions than in countries with more family-friendly policies.

Women who decide to take alternative workplace arrangements – through part-time work or career breaks – find their overall incomes and chances for promotion harmed. There is a need, then, for the stigma often associated with alternative working arrangements to be rethought, perhaps by encouraging – and amending policy to allow – fathers to take responsibility for childcare.

Read more on Slate.