Working Parents and Kids

What are family responsibilities?

According to ILO Convention 156 on the subject, family responsibilities are responsibilities in relation to dependent children and other immediate family members who need care (sick, elder, infirm). Noting that notion of “family” and “family responsibilities” can take different forms in different cultures and societies, countries are allowed to define who are included under provisions of this convention. This can be done either through law marking, arbitration award, court decisions and collective agreements. Although not specifically mentioned, this convention including elderly (parents and other close family members), dependent family members (who are sick or infirm) other than children.

Family responsibilities affect both men and women however women are affected the most due to gender stereotyping of roles at home (care for children and elderly).

The above convention also requires that employees with family responsibilities may not be discriminated against in any aspect of employment. It also declares that family responsibilities can’t constitute a valid reason for termination of employment.

What is work-family conflict?

With increases industrialization and urbanization since Second World War, women labor force participation has increased tremendously and we observe many dual earner couples. These families used to count on help from non-working women relatives. However, traditional family care support has also decreased with time due to a host of reasons (less family members are available to look after their parents in old age due to increased rural-urban migration and increased need for income)

The current situation (where workers have to look after their children as well as work/earn) leads to a situation called work-family conflict. It refers to pressures from work and family domains, which are incompatible with each other in such a way that meeting requirements of one role makes it difficult to satisfactorily fulfill the other role. According to research, working long hours is one of the sources of work-family conflict.

What is work-life balance?

According to an OECD report, work-life balance is “the state of equilibrium between an individual’s work and personal life”. Work-life balance also affects well-being of individuals. Work–life balance is achieved when an individual combines work, family commitments and his personal life in an effective way. If a worker is spending too much time on work, he may earn enough money but he would not be able to give quality time to his family and would also be isolated from his community. Conversely, if a worker is working too little, he may not be able to provide his family a decent standard of living. An individual’s work-life balance varies overtime. Work-life balance for a single worker is different from a single parent or a parent with school going children.

Employees usually strive for three types of balance; time balance; involvement balance; and satisfaction balance. Workers now want to balance the time spent on work and non-work activities. Similarly, they want to be similarly involved, psychologically, in both work and non-work activities. Moreover, at the end of the day, they want satisfaction from their work and non-work roles.

What are the results of flexible work practices used by employers?

Research has shown the provision of flexible work practices (that help workers achieve work-life balance) positively impact

·      Recruitment and retention

·      Working environment and reduced stress

·      Job satisfaction

·      Employee morale

·      Labour turnover

·      Motivation and productivity

·      Absenteeism

What are workplace family-friendly measures that can be taken by employers?

These measures are actions or procedures that help workers reconcile their work and family responsibilities. These refer to work organization and working time (and location) arrangements; statutory and non-statutory leave; maternity protection arrangements; and workplace care facilities and arrangements.

Flexible working arrangements include flexitime (where workers are present at their workplace for some part of the day or some days of the week), time banking (working long hours some days while working shorter hours the other days), compressed workweeks (same number of hours over fewer days, 4-day week, working 10 hours a day), staggered working hours (working starting and ending their shifts at different times), part time work, job sharing, homework, telecommuting, etc.

Statutory and non-statutory leave arrangements, those are important to work with family responsibilities, include

·      Annual leave (allowing employee to decide the timing of leave and taking it in parts)

·      Sick leave

·      Short leave for family emergencies

·      Maternity leave

·      Paternity leave

·      Parental leave

·      carer's leave

                   

Maternity protection arrangements include, other than maternity leave,

·      Health protection measures for pregnant and breast-feeding mothers

·      Leave in case of pregnancy related illness

·      Provision of cash and medical benefits

·      Employment protection and non-discrimination

·      Allowing nursing breaks to breast-feeding mothers

                   

Workplace care facilities and arrangements include:

·      Company or on-site day care facilities

·      Financing for off-site day care services (subsidies)

·      Advice and referral services by employers

·      Back-up emergency care services

·      Workplace family room (where workers work productively while looking after their children)

What are the indicators for work-life balance?

In order to measure work-life balance, some indicators have been developed and used by OECD. Some of these include:

  • Long working hours---over 50 hours a week; shows that work-life balance must be affected
  • Time available for personal care/leisure …..available through time-use surveys; less time availability for personal care indicates lower work-life balance
  • Employment of mothers with children of compulsory school age…..if higher number of women workers are employed, flexible work arrangements must have been provided.
  • Commuting time….longer commuting time means lower work-life balance

The table below shows adapted data from OECD Better Life Index about some of the OECD economies.

Countries

Employees Working Long Hours (%)

Time devoted to Leisure and Personal Care (hours)

Australia

13.99%

14.41

Belgium

4.45%

15.71

Brazil

12.50%

14.76

Canada

3.91%

14.25

Chile

7.15%

14.31

Denmark

1.92%

16.06

Finland

3.66%

14.89

France

8.63%

15.33

Germany

5.14%

15.31

Greece

5.20%

15.16

Ireland

3.72%

14.56

Israel

18.92%

14.47

Italy

4.62%

14.89

Japan

29.54%

13.96

Korea

22.48%

14.63

Netherlands

0.68%

15.35

New Zealand

13.28%

14.87

Norway

2.66%

15.56

Poland

7.35%

14.2

Portugal

5.36%

15.1

Spain

6.66%

15.85

Sweden

1.28%

15.11

Switzerland

5.87%

15.04

Turkey

43%

14.63

United Kingdom

11.71%

14.83

United States

10.86%

14.27

On the other hand, ILO uses the following two legal indicators to measure whether workers are successfully combining work and family:

·      Length of paternity leave

·      Length of parental leave

Paternity leave is for the father around of time of birth of a child. Paternity leave is not found in any of the ILO conventions however it is becoming more of a norm in developed countries. Paternity leave is usually of short duration (1 day to two weeks) and is fully paid.

ILO Recommendation 165 (concerning workers with family responsibilities) supports provision of Parental leave. It recommends that after exhausting paternity leave and maternity leave, either parent should be able to obtain leave of absence, i.e., parental leave for taking care of young children. As indicated above, parental leave is different from maternity or paternity leaves and either parent (father or mother) can take this leave. Parental leave is usually of longer duration however paid at lower rates (or sometimes unpaid). Although either parent can take this leave, take-up rate for fathers is much lower than that for mothers.

The table below shows paternity and paternal leaves provisions in the Labor Rights for Women countries.

Country

Paternity Leave

Parental Leave

Egypt

No provided in law

 

Guatemala

2 days paid leave

Not provided

India

No provided in law

 

Indonesia

2 days paid leave

Not provided

 

Kenya

2 days paid leave

Not provided

 

Mozambique

One day paid leave, every two years

Not provided

Pakistan

No provided in law

 

Paraguay

3 days paid leave

Not provided

Peru

Not provided in law

South Africa

3 days paid leave

3 days paid leave 

Source: ILO Database on Conditions of Work and Employment Laws. ILO, Geneva

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