Families, Care-giving and Paid Work

Families, Care-giving and Paid Work

Challenging Labour Law in the 21st Century

Edited by Nicole Busby and Grace James

This unique selection of chapters brings together researchers from a variety of academic disciplines to explore aspects of law’s engagement with working families. It connects academic debate with policy proposals through an integrated set of approaches and perspectives.

Chapter 2: Atypical Working in Europe and the Impact on Work–Family Reconciliation

Clare Lyonette

Subjects: development studies, family and gender policy, law - academic, european law, family law, labour, employment law, law and society, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, family and gender policy


Clare Lyonette INTRODUCTION Since the 1970s increasing numbers of women (and particularly mothers) across Europe, North America and Australia have entered the paid workforce. A substantial number of men, especially in market-oriented or ‘liberal’ welfare regimes such as the US and the UK, also work over 60 hours per week on a regular basis (OECD 2005), and married or partnered men tend to work longer hours than those who are unpartnered (for example, Biggart and O’Brien 2009). At the same time, many other fathers and mothers are regularly working ‘atypical’ or ‘non-standard’ hours (for example, early mornings, evenings/nights and weekends) (Eurostat 2008). Some parents choose to work at such times to facilitate childcare, for example, to allow ‘shift-parenting’, but others report little choice in their working patterns and would prefer to work more regular hours (La Valle et al. 2002). As many couples with dependent children are now spending more time at work than ever before and less time at home with other family members, the impact of long and atypical working hours extends not only to the individual employee, but also to partners and to children. Any resulting ill health from conflicting work and family roles also affects employers, with absenteeism from work stress representing a significant economic cost (Dewe and Kompier 2008). This chapter begins by outlining national-level policies relating to work and family before moving on to examine the prevalence of atypical working patterns across Europe, and the UK in particular. A summary of recent...

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