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Work-life balance and women’s careers in UK higher education. Stephen Court UCU senior research officer 1 February 2010. A definition.

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Work life balance and women s careers in uk higher education

Work-life balance and women’s careers in UK higher education

Stephen Court

UCU senior research officer

1 February 2010


A definition
A definition education

  • Work-life balance – having a measure of control over when, where and how you work, leading to being able to enjoy an optimal quality of life. Work-life balance is achieved when an individual’s right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected as the norm, to the mutual benefit of the individual, business and society (Work Foundation)


The demands of home and work
The demands of home and work education

By 2010, one in five UK workers will be mothers; 25% of all families will be single parent families; up to 10 million people will be caring for elderly relatives; there will be one million fewer workers under 50 and three million more over 50 by 2022. 

  • http://theworkfoundation.com/research/health/worklifebalance.aspx


The demands of home and work1
The demands of home and work education

  • We now live in a ‘service’ world where customers – including fee-paying students - increasingly expect a personalised, 24/7 offer.

  • Technology and long commuting distances mean more people are working from different locations or from home.

    http://theworkfoundation.com/research/health/worklifebalance.aspx


The demands of home and work2
The demands of home and work education

  • Technology – especially email, mobile phones - makes employees more accessible/work harder to escape

  • Technology creates a demand for more availability & more methods of communication, eg blogs & other things I’ve probably never heard of


Surrey why bother
Surrey: why bother? education

‘The University [of Surrey] recognises that flexibility in employment enables benefits for both staff and the business:

  • Assists in retaining skilled staff;

  • Compete effectively in attracting new staff;

  • Raise staff morale and commitment;

  • Reduce absenteeism by promoting well-being;

  • Extends the working day in terms of office cover;


Surrey why bother1
Surrey: why bother? education

  • Helps to reduce pressure on car parking;

  • Changing academic cycle;

  • Promotes equality of opportunity;

  • Supports working prior to retirement (excellent tool for succession planning). The retiree can act as a mentor while passing on skills/knowledge.’

    http://portal.surrey.ac.uk/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/HUMANRESOURCES/EMPLOYMENT_INFO/POLICIES/FLEXIBLE%20WORKING%20POLICY.PDF


Why bother
Why bother? education

  • Competition to attract and retain good employees continues to make work-life balance a differentiator.

    http://theworkfoundation.com/research/health/worklifebalance.aspx


Manchester employer of choice
Manchester: employer of choice education

  • Our mission……………..

  • ‘To position the University as an exemplary employer and a destination of preference for all staff both nationally and internationally so as to enable it to become one of the leading Universities in the world by 2015’

    http://www.staffnet.manchester.ac.uk/medialibrary/employment/people-and-organisational-development-strategy_27march2008.pdf




Durham control over when you work
Durham: control over educationwhen you work?

  • ‘Academic staff are expected to be available throughout term and vacation (apart from annual leave) to fulfil teaching, research and administrative requirements as set out by their Board of Studies.’

  • http://www.dur.ac.uk/hr/policies/condemp/tcs/workhours/


Bath flexible hours
Bath: flexible hours? education

  • ‘It is available, where the exigencies of the service permit, to all groups of staff other than academic staff, since they already have flexible working arrangements.’

  • ‘No fixed hours of work are specified for academic staff. Because of the nature of their work, academic staff are considered to be exempt from the provisions of the Working Time Regulations 1998 governing maximum weekly working hours.’

  • http://www.bath.ac.uk/hr/terms/cos-grade-acad8-9.html


Exeter hours
Exeter: hours education

  • Teaching & research job family

  • ‘There are no specific hours of work but staff are required to work such hours as are necessary to carry out the duties associated with the appointment ...’

  • http://admin.exeter.ac.uk/personnel/~docs/conditions_of_employment.pdf


Durham flexible working
Durham: flexible working education

  • You can request your supervisor to be able to work flexibly, but the emphasis is on meeting legal requirements under the Employment Act 2002 and Work and Families Act 2006, giving eligible parents or employees caring for adults the right to request flexible working to enable them to care for a child or adult

  • Durham doesn’t appear to offer the breadth of options provided by Surrey, for example

  • http://www.dur.ac.uk/hr/policies/wlbalance/flexible/flexemp/


Surrey flexible working
Surrey: flexible working education

  • ‘The University’s policy on requests to change hours and patterns of work gives all staff an entitlement to request a change to their working pattern, as opposed to certain groups of staff under the statutory guidelines ‘

  • http://portal.surrey.ac.uk/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/HUMANRESOURCES/EMPLOYMENT_INFO/POLICIES/FLEXIBLE%20WORKING%20POLICY.PDF


Surrey flexible working1
Surrey: flexible working education

  • Part-time working

  • Term-time working

  • Job-sharing

  • Compressed working hours

  • Annualized hours

  • Staggered hours

  • Working from home

  • Tele-working

  • Additional planned unpaid leave

  • http://portal.surrey.ac.uk/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/HUMANRESOURCES/EMPLOYMENT_INFO/POLICIES/FLEXIBLE%20WORKING%20POLICY.PDF


Durham job sharing
Durham: job-sharing education

  • ‘Requests to "job share" must be given full and fair consideration. We have a legal responsibility to make every effort to accommodate requests for part time working following maternity leave but it is also good employment practice. The opportunity to "job share" is however open to men and women alike and at all levels.’

  • http://www.dur.ac.uk/hr/policies/wlbalance/jobshare/


Childcare provision
Childcare provision education

  • Most HEIs have childcare provision, but vary according to:

  • Cost

  • Number of places

  • Age range

  • Opening hours

  • Extent subsidised

  • ‘in-house’ or outsourced?


Data education

  • Growing % of UK academics are women

  • Women more likely to work part-time

  • Women work shorter hours on average

  • More seniority = fewer women

  • Women less likely to combine teaching & research

  • Women less likely to be counted research active

  • Pay gap doesn’t appear to be narrowing














Gender pay
Gender & pay education

2004 Framework agreement

“ ... to ensure equal pay for work of equal value ...”

“Institutions will be encouraged to monitor and review the impact of the new arrangements by undertaking periodic equal pay audits, in line with the guidance issued by JNCHES in March 2002 [revised 2007]”


Equal pay reviews guidance for higher education institutions 2007
Equal Pay Reviews: Guidance for Higher Education Institutions (2007)

“Both the employers’ and unions’ sides of JNCHES recommend that HE institutions carry out reviews ... “ to

  • “establish whether there are pay inequities ...

  • analyse in more detail the nature of any inequities

  • analyse the factors creating inequities and diagnose the cause or causes

  • determine what action is required ...”


Gender pay1
Gender & pay Institutions (2007)

But progress on equal pay audits has been patchy at best ...

Has the Framework had any impact?

The overall academic gender pay gap does not appear to have narrowed, although GP gaps at grade level are narrower



Gender pay2
Gender & pay Institutions (2007)

2007-8

UK academics 13.7%

GP gaps by grade, UK academics:

  • Professors 7.5%

  • Senior lecturers & researchers 5.1%

  • Lecturers 2.2%

  • Researchers 5.7%

    Source: HESA staff record 2007-8


Quality of working life
Quality of working life Institutions (2007)

  • Women work shorter hours on average

  • Women have a relatively similar level of stress compared with men, but ...

  • Tend to suffer more bullying and harassment

  • Have less autonomy and flexibility

  • Have more work ‘intensity’

    However, they report better support and better networks




Conclusion
Conclusion Institutions (2007)

Over time, as women progress up the career ladder, and with positive policies, the pay gap is likely to lessen.

Although there are many policies about work-life balance, academic life can be demanding – especially in terms of research performance - and relatively un-family friendly.

Employers may vary considerably in how far they are prepared to support work-life balance and be flexible.

Does academics’ desire for autonomy work against the desire for a better work-life balance?


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