Challenging Labour Law in the 21st Century
Edited by Nicole Busby and Grace James
Chapter 10: Child Welfare and Work–Family Reconciliation Policies: Lessons from Family Law
Grace James and Thérèse Callus INTRODUCTION The true measure of a nation’s standing is how well it attends to its children – their health and safety, their material security, their education and socialisation and their sense of being loved, valued and included in the families and societies into which they were born. (UNICEF 2007) Work–family reconciliation policies seek to help workers participate in the labour market and care for dependent family members. Legislation is principally focused on enabling parents to provide care for their children through a variety of measures including maternity, paternity or parental leave provisions and rights to request ﬂexible working arrangements. The legislation that exists in developing countries often highlights the need to achieve gender equality and/or facilitate parental choice, and whilst this ought clearly to guide policy formation it is nonetheless curious that children’s need to receive care from their parents (or other carers) features so little in the packages of rights on offer. At an EU level for example, relevant laws have been developed to promote reconciliation between work and family life primarily as a means to achieve equality between women and men (see Caracciolo di Torella in this collection and Caracciolo di Torella and Masselot 2010) and so children’s welfare is not a fundamental aim, per se, of policies instigated at this level. Even rulings of the Court of Justice (CoJ), which often pursues a purposive agenda in cases it hears, does not acknowledge the impact of its employment policies upon children’s...
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