A report provided a summary of published evidence on the costs and benefits to business of flexible working, parental leave, and childcare support practices.
Source: Deborah Smeaton, Kath Ray, and Genevieve Knight, Employment Relations: Costs and benefits to business of adopting work life balance working practices – a literature review, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
An article examined the association between a poor work-life balance and poor health across 27 European countries, and the variation of work-life balance between the countries. It said that employees reporting a poor work-life balance reported more health problems, with similar associations seen for men and women, and a large part of the between-country variation of work-life balance was explained by working hours, working time regulations, and welfare state regimes. It said that the best overall balance was reported by Scandinavian men and women.
Source: Thorsten Lunau, Clare Bambra, Terje Eikemo, Kjetil van der Wel, and Nico Dragano, 'A balancing act? Work-life balance, health and well-being in European welfare states', European Journal of Public Health, Volume 24 Number 3
A report examined the experiences and preferences of low-income Caribbean, Pakistani, and Somali people in the United Kingdom in balancing work and care responsibilities. It said that: discrimination prevented people from balancing work and care; many people were unaware of free childcare provision for 2-4 year olds; benefit changes were likely to make it more difficult to balance work and care; attitudes towards caring varied greatly across ethnic groups; and caring responsibilities were predominantly taken up by women. The report made a range of recommendations including for better access to employment and flexible working, for information and advice to be improved, for a range of measures to improve access to formal childcare, and for policy to be reviewed to ensure that it met the needs of all families.
Source: Omar Khan, Akile Ahmet, and Christina Victor, Balancing Caring and Earning for British Caribbean, Pakistani and Somali People, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
A report brought together the core findings from a series of six short statistical reports about the reconciliation of work, private, and family life in Europe. It said that the work had highlighted large gender disparities in employment situations between parents and non-parents, with lower employment levels, fewer work hours, and more underemployment among mothers in many western European countries, as compared with women without children and men with or without children. The work had also found persistent inequality among social groups, that certain groups such as single parents were more vulnerable to the challenges of work-life balance, and that long-standing social and cultural norms played a role in perpetuating gender inequality in employment. The report said that there were large differences between European Union member states in levels of, and support for, employment, and that, although the situation varied between countries, childcare and cultural norms regarding children were still important factors in employment decisions. The report concluded that there had not generally been a move away from the 'male breadwinner' model, and said that the findings illustrated the importance of recognizing the heterogeneity among groups (of women, men, parents, or non-parents), the importance of considering gender roles and cultural norms, and a need for work-life reconciliation policies targeting vulnerable groups. The supporting work was published as a series of annexes, alongside this report.
Source: Melinda Mills, Flavia Tsang, Patrick Prag, Kai Ruggeri, Celine Miani, and Stijn Hoorens, Gender Equality in the Workforce: Reconciling work, private and family life in Europe – final report, RAND Europe
Annex 1: Melinda Mills, Patrick Prag, Flavia Tsang, Katia Begall, James Derbyshire, Laura Kohle, Celine Miani, and Stijn Hoorens, Use of Childcare Services in the EU Member States and Progress Towards the Barcelona Targets: Short Statistical Report No. 1, RAND Europe
Annex 2: Celine Miani and Stijn Hoorens, Parents at Work: Men and women participating in the labour force – Short Statistical Report No. 2, RAND Europe
Annex 3: Kai Ruggeri and Chloe Bird, Single Parents and Employment in Europe: Short Statistical Report No. 3, RAND Europe
Annex 4: Melinda Mills and Patrick Prag, Gender Inequalities in the School-to-Work Transition in Europe: Short Statistical Report No. 4, RAND Europe
Annex 5: Flavia Tsang, Michael Rendall, Charlene Rohr, and Stijn Hoorens, Emerging Trends in Earnings Structures of Couples in Europe: Short Statistical Report No. 5, RAND Europe
Annex 6: Patrick Prag and Melinda Mills, Family-Related Working Schedule Flexibility across Europe: Short Statistical Report No. 6, RAND Europe
An article examined the gendered consequences of night work for partnered women with children, drawing on a study of female nurses. The 'preparation' and 'recovery' phases of women's night work involved intense periods of considerable additional unpaid and unrecognized work and anxiety. Gendered expectations for household management and family well-being meant that women night workers undertook considerable responsibility for complex planning before night shifts began, and re-entered established domestic routines within hours after night shifts ended. Women maintained continuity for their families by actively managing the impacts of night work. This enabled the fulfilment and 'display' of successful and normative gendered patterns of domestic responsibility, which appeared to be central to women's own coping with night shifts.
Source: Elizabeth Lowson and Sara Arber, 'Preparing, working, recovering: gendered experiences of night work among women and their families', Gender, Work and Organization, Volume 21 Number 3
The Northern Ireland Executive published the Work and Families Bill. The Bill was designed to make provision about shared rights to leave from work and statutory pay in connection with caring for children; for time off work to accompany to ante-natal appointments or to attend adoption appointments; and to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees with adequate length of service.
Source: Work and Families Bill, Northern Ireland Executive, TSO
The Children and Families Act 2014 was given Royal assent. The Act provided for (among other things): reform of the adoption system; the introduction of greater flexibility in parental leave arrangements; reform of the system of special educational needs; strengthening the role of the children's rights watchdog; reduction in delays in the family justice system; and reduction in regulation of the childcare sector.
Source: Children and Families Act 2014, Department for Education, TSO
A report examined how to improve high quality childcare and the measures that would enable greater balance between paid and unpaid work. It made three key recommendations: that the pay levels for childcare workers should be tripled and the career structure improved; for employers to move towards a standard 30-hour week, to improve parents' work-life balance; and for universal provision of high quality childcare.
Source: Jacob Mohun Himmelweit, Anna Coote, and Juliette Hough, The Value of Childcare: Quality, cost and time, New Economics Foundation
An article examined the potential for workplace partnership to produce mutual gains through the implementation of high-performance, flexible-working initiatives. A significant potential existed for partnership agreements to deliver mutual gains, albeit within a narrower range of workplace practices than might be the case if the innovation package were designed with the primary interest of only one group in mind. Managers and employees had different perspectives in relation to partnership arrangements, with the latter having the more realistic expectations of achievable outcomes.
Source: Philip Whyman and Alina Petrescu, 'Partnership, flexible workplace practices and the realisation of mutual gains: evidence from the British WERS 2004 dataset', International Journal of Human Resource Management, Volume 25 Issue 6
A report examined how families combined family life with work in the United Kingdom. Based on a commissioned survey, it said that: over 50 per cent of women in couple households worked part-time, compared with five per cent of fathers; more than half of parents reported that they were not able to leave work on time; almost one-third (31 per cent) said that their employers offered no flexible working option; and one-quarter reported being very stressed. The report said that fathers, particularly young fathers and those with one child, were more resentful towards employers about their work-life balance. Just under one-quarter of families used grandparents for childcare.
Source: Time, Health and the Family: What working families want, Working Families