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 11: Unpaid Care-giving and Paid Work Within a Rights Framework: Towards Reconciliation?

Nicole Busby

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


Nicole Busby INTRODUCTION As the other chapters in this book amply demonstrate, there is a clearly discernible and growing chasm between the requirements of policy aimed at the reconciliation of paid work and unpaid care and its current provision. The contributions from Masselot, Weldon-Johns, Smith, Charlesworth, Horton and Guerrina show that this often wide disparity is by no mean a jurisdictional issue and, as Caracciolo di Torella’s chapter on EU-level policy makes clear, attempts to remedy the mismatch in need and provision by the top-down application of broad principles can often lead to greater fragmentation rather than harmonization. This is in part because, as McPherson’s consideration of relevant UK social policy and Lyonette’s sociological analysis of working patterns across Europe demonstrate, the founding assumptions on which the relevant policy is predicated are increasingly inaccurate as individual behaviour and aspirations continue to shift and are reflected in patterns of group behaviour relating to family formation and labour market attachment. The ineffectiveness of policy based on outdated notions of a ‘standard worker’ is further exacerbated by the changing demands of an increasingly unregulated, and from the worker’s perspective, unsecure labour market which influences and restricts the life choices individuals are able to make (James 2009). All of these factors combine to enable identification of certain requirements which, if it is to be effective in enabling individuals to better reconcile their paid work and care commitments, should inform and shape the future direction of policy development. These requirements include flexible...

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