Edited by Samuel Cameron
Samuel Cameron and Mark Fox INTRODUCTION Chapter 1 of this volume highlighted the fact that, due to the inflexible nature of work arrangements, workers cannot always readily exchange leisure for money. This reality was further developed in Chapter 6, which showed the difficulties of achieving work–life balance. These discussions assumed a straightforward division between the workplace and the home. In a theoretical Becker model, ‘work’ occurs in the home and leisure may take place at work, but work and home remain separate domains that are distinguished by whether or not one is paid by someone else. However, where one is employed by others, then taking leisure at work will often be detrimental to the aims of the employer. This would occur regardless of whether the leisure involves, say, taking too many breaks, watching porn or playing games on an office computer. Chapter 5 indicated that when work is particularly boring, such activities may be productivity enhancing, if they enable higher effort levels and lead to lower labour turnover. While this is possible, most firms would still seek to curtail such behaviour. In fact, recent cases suggest that firms are highly sensitive about this. Since the industrial revolution, employers have typically compensated workers for their time, their knowledge/attention/skills, and their presence. As Gajendran and Harrison (2007) observe, ‘Employees mainly transact their time, rather than their products with employing firms. That time is tightly bound to task and place’ (p. 1524). The most logical way to escape from employer control over...
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