Challenging Labour Law in the 21st Century
Edited by Nicole Busby and Grace James
Chapter 4: The Rights and Realities of Balancing Work and Family Life in New Zealand
Annick Masselot INTRODUCTION The new millennium has borne witness to the emergence of a new struggle in employment law discourses. Over the past decade, labour rights aiming either to reconcile work and family life, to promote family-friendly environments, or to guarantee work–life balance have increasingly been at the forefront of policy and law making in developed countries (OECD 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005a, 2007) including New Zealand (see, for example, Department of Labour 2008). The last half century has seen a number of signiﬁcant social changes lead to a deconstruction of the traditional public/ private dichotomy (Caracciolo di Torella and Masselot 2010; J. James 2009). Changes in family and employment market structures, as well as growing demographic deﬁcits, have produced a need for legal intervention in what used to be considered the private sphere of care. Indeed, although an ever-growing number of people are in need of care, there is a diminishing number of individuals (traditionally females) who are able to provide it gratis. As increasing numbers of women are either willing or required to enter and remain in the workforce, it is no longer possible to assume that private care will be provided by women. Moreover, despite societal shifts which have slowly closed traditional gender roles, men remain reluctant to step in to either replace or contribute satisfactorily to these domestic and unpaid tasks traditionally undertaken by women (EHRC 2009a). Because of this, it is necessary for governments to begin to regulate the relationship between paid and...
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