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resdardscenareg.cf: Families and Work: New Directions in the Twenty-First Century: Karen I. Fredriksen-Goldsen, Andrew E. Scharlach.
Table of contents

This review draws together the findings from 19 individual research projects to provide a comprehensive overview of the state of this relationship at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The study brings together findings on a wide range of subjects, including childcare, caring for older relatives, employment and self-employment, flexible working, working unsociable hours and the ability to move with a job.

It sets out how the majority of British families, occupying the broad middle ground of circumstances, are managing work and family life. Together with important insights into where both families and employers feel most pressure, it reflects on whether recent Government policy, aimed at helping working families, is moving in the right direction. Family life appears to be under pressure from the twenty-four-hour society. Workplaces are also feeling pressure from global competition.

Since , the JRF has supported a programme of research considering how families and businesses are coping with and responding to these pressures. In this Foundations, Professor Shirley Dex - of the Institute of Education, London University - reviews the main findings from that research programme and the issues raised for policy and practice.

As well as contributing important insights into where families feel most pressure, the research offers an opportunity to consider whether recent government policy aimed at helping working families - fast-moving as it has been - is going in the right direction. The projects found that parents' views run contrary to the thrust of government policy on a number of issues, including child care and working at weekends.

The Labour Government's many initiatives to address the pressures of work on family life have unfolded in stages, in part in response to European Union EU directives. Measures to achieve this include extending:. A mixture of tax changes, new regulations, incentives and encouragement to better practice is in place to help achieve the child poverty target. New legislation covers better maternity leave and pay enacted in and , new parental leave , protection for part-time employees , paid paternity leave , and opportunities for some parents to have greater flexibility at work to suit their individual needs The Work-Life Balance Challenge Fund, launched in , also offered employers encouragement and assistance to introduce more flexible working arrangements.

Its initial aims were to allow employee parents greater opportunity to combine work and family life without such changes disadvantaging business.

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At times, the research has been able to feed into the policy consultations and discussions. Policy developments have moved at breathtaking speed and, in some cases, without sound evidence on which to build.

However, the messages of the research programme are still highly relevant. In some cases they support the direction policy and regulation have taken, contributing much-needed evidence. In other cases, findings suggest that government targets will be difficult to meet. This research programme did not set out to help the Government reduce child poverty. It was not specifically focused on the boundary between benefits and paid work, although several projects collected information from parents who had crossed this line.

The research did set out to improve our understanding of how most British families - occupying the broad middle ground of circumstances - were managing work and family life at the turn of the twenty-first century. This broader agenda is relevant to the Government's more focused interests but also to a much wider policy agenda including: labour market efficiency; fertility and the population size; the social care labour force; the individualisation of social life; social capital development; fathers' roles; the length of marriages; outcomes for children; and opportunities for private, public and voluntary sector partnerships.

The programme offered a timely opportunity to consider how well families, employers and communities, as well as the Government, are responding to the pressures that families and workplaces face. This Foundations outlines some of the themes of the programme and its main messages. This programme of research was set against changes in families' involvement in the labour force, and particularly the large rise in working mothers.

The dominant pattern for UK families at the beginning of the twenty-first century is to have 1.

  1. Families and work in the twenty-first century.
  2. The Cambridge Handbook of English Historical Linguistics.
  3. Andrew E. Scharlach, PhD.

Drawing on different data sources, studies from the programme found:. Having two earners in the family reduces the risk of families facing financial hardship, more especially:. For some, the dual or 1. Many mothers find there are additional benefits from working Reynolds et al.

The signs of stress in family life from having two earners are most evident in the high proportion of employed mothers approximately half who say they would prefer to stop work altogether and stay home looking after their children if they could afford to do so Bell and La Valle, In the early phases of this programme, the DTI was estimating the workplace costs from changing family circumstances. Stress and ill health were estimated to have lost between 4. The business case Surveys analysed in this programme suggest that employers, especially in larger workplaces, have been adapting to changes in family life and employee responsibilities by offering an array of work-life policies Dex and Smith, Their reasons for change are varied but recognising the costs of ignoring problems has been one.

Competition for talent has been another important element. Analyses of the Workplace Employee Relations Survey a nationally representative survey of British workplaces found that flexible working arrangements could be associated with improved business performance Dex and Smith, This business case offers evidence to back the Government's campaign for greater workplace flexibility. In-depth case studies of a range of smaller organisations found that, contrary to survey findings, smaller businesses could be highly innovative in their response to employee requests for flexible working, possibly to a greater extent than is possible in larger organisations Dex and Scheibl, There were encouraging signs that career prospects were not penalised if employees made use of flexible working arrangements Crompton et al.

Trends and Directions in Sexuality Research at the Start of the Twenty-First Century

Problem areas A study of a range of business settings Yeandle et al. Customised solutions work best for employees. This also provides opportunities for greater employee partnership, initiative and autonomy. This brings far greater benefits and also addresses ineffective and low productivity working practices.

This will also spread costs more evenly between employers. This may mean avoiding over-long lists of policies and confusing names. This sort of customised approach is needed especially for carers of older adults. New approaches Smaller businesses often start out granting flexibility to individual employees who request it Dex and Scheibl, Some employers had moved from this informal and discretionary response to a more explicitly reciprocal approach: ' You help the business and the business will help you '.

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From here, some had moved to examine and then change the organisation of their work overall to facilitate greater flexibility for employees without disrupting business and even bringing some business benefits. Larger organisations can retain the customised approach of smaller businesses by having fewer policies but an over-arching and explicit statement that employees can ask for the arrangements they want. This can also help avoid some of the problems of lack of awareness of 'family-friendly' policies. Encouraging employees to offer suggestions about how to improve working arrangements and productivity can also help to build employer-employee partnerships and trust and produce workable solutions to individuals' specific needs.

Trust was found to underlie good working relationships across different types and sizes of organisations ranging from family businesses, other small businesses to large private or public sector organisations Dex and Scheibl, ; Basu and Altinay, forthcoming; Yeandle et al. Suggestions for helping to extend best-practice flexible working in workplaces are listed in Box 1.

Theoretical Paradigms of Work and Family

Trade unions are the obvious institutions to get involved in this sort of partnership building towards best practice. Flexibility is very popular among employees and much appreciated in workplaces which offer it. However, working at weekends, especially Sundays, was the most unpopular working arrangement among parents. Given the popularity of flexible working, the lack of serious disadvantages, and even a good business case for some arrangements, the argument for having more such policies is strong.

The Government's introduction, in , of parents' right to ask for flexible working is a move in the right direction. It is also in tune with the way small businesses introduce and operate flexible working. However, by its restriction to parents, the new regulation runs the risk of generating resentment within workplaces where, according to these research projects, feelings of inequity and resentment currently are rare. This would be a pity. Work problems and stresses can sometimes carry over into day-to-day family life, although the extent to which this occurs varies according to how far parents separate these two aspects of their lives Reynolds et al.

Other bad effects were considerably more pronounced for couples and lone parents who worked at atypical times of day La Valle et al. When facing competing demands, mothers put children and work first with time for self and their partner ranked second Reynolds et al.

Some interesting findings emerged about how having a family affects fathers La Valle et al. These support other recent research findings about fathers.

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It is often assumed that fathers give priority to work over family and mothers the reverse. But fathers and mothers were similar in many ways. Although child care provision continues to expand under the National Child Care Strategy and the Sure Start programme, some problem areas remain and the thrust of government policy goes against the thinking of some groups of parents.

Problem areas Child care provision was seen to be a problem for working parents of school aged children:. In addition, co-ordinating different child care provision was problematic for employed parents, especially in families with more than one young child Skinner, Getting children from care in one place to care in another, either early in the morning, at midday or the end of school, led to considerable pressure on two-parent families and made some one-parent families feel it was so impossible that employment was not an option.

Co-ordinating child care, the geographical spread of provision and associated transport provision need more detailed consideration in the National Strategy if lone parents and even some couples are to be able to take up employment or have more than one child. While it may be possible, even efficient, for schools to play a bigger role in organising care, moving into being providers or organisers of child care would involve a departure from their current roles as educators and may be resisted. Existing child care providers face significant problems in trying to extend their services outside of the normal working day, even where they are willing to do so.

There are staffing as well as other barriers. Childminders have done most to offer flexible services by extending their hours a little either side of the standard working day. But all child care providers thought further extension would encroach on their own family time and was therefore unacceptable. Similarly, other childcare providers thought that there would be problems finding staff to work at atypical times Statham and Mooney, Preference for informal child care The Government's National Child Care Strategy is concerned with providing affordable, accessible, and high quality formal child care provision from childminders and various types of day care.

Parents in these research projects wanted their children to be happy while they were out of the home, a preference that coincides with valuing good quality child care.

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But many parents also expressed strong preferences about the sort of child care they were happy with. Backett-Milburn et al. Also, rather than being prepared to compromise on what was available, some parents' views were so strong that they were prepared to put themselves to enormous time and trouble to take their children to what they thought of as suitable carers Skinner, ; Mooney et al.