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Future Trends in the Regulatory Reform of Work-Life Balance in the UK. Ian Roper Middlesex University London. Future Trends in the Regulatory Reform of Work-Life Balance in the UK. Background to Policy agenda Incrementalist approach to equality ‘Flexibility’

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future trends in the regulatory reform of work life balance in the uk

Future Trends in the Regulatory Reform of Work-Life Balance in the UK

Ian Roper

Middlesex University

London

future trends in the regulatory reform of work life balance in the uk1
Future Trends in the Regulatory Reform of Work-Life Balance in the UK
  • Background to Policy agenda
    • Incrementalist approach to equality
    • ‘Flexibility’
  • Employer attitudes: some empirical evidence
  • Recent developments
the wlb policy agenda equality and incrementalism
The WLB Policy AgendaEquality and Incrementalism
  • Basic Issue: who should bear the ‘burden’ of childcare?
    • The family?
    • The state?
    • Employers?
  • Policy framework therefore straddles equality, welfare, employment
the wlb policy agenda equality and incrementalism1
The WLB Policy AgendaEquality and Incrementalism
  • Linda Dickens (2007)
    • Approach to employment equality disjointed
    • Different internal sources of pressure
      • Campaigns; ‘shocks’ e.g. Disability Discrimination Act 1995; Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000
    • Different external sources
      • Influence of US civil rights movement; EU
    • EU influence significant
      • Gender, race, disability, parental leave, PT and temp worker rights
the wlb policy agenda equality and incrementalism2
The WLB Policy AgendaEquality and Incrementalism
  • Paid maternity leave since 1975
  • Since 1997
    • extension of maternity leave to 12 months
    • limited right to parental leave
    • limited right to paid paternity leave
    • right to ‘request’ flexible working
the wlb policy agenda equality and incrementalism3
The WLB Policy AgendaEquality and Incrementalism
  • EU influence: Social Chapter
    • Parental Leave Directive
    • Equalisation of PT and temp workers rights
  • Greater emphasis on equal pay systems in public sector (Corby 2007)
    • NHS, local government, education
the wlb policy agenda flexibility
The WLB Policy AgendaFlexibility
  • 1979-97 ‘the flexible firm’ (Atkinson 1984)
  • The role of legislation
    • Curtail individual rights
    • Restrict union’s ability to ‘resist change’
  • Example:
    • 1979 eligibility to claim unfair dismissal = 6 months employment
    • 1997 = 24 months
slide11

New Labour

  • ‘Flexibility and fairness’
  • Explicit link to equality diminished
  • Emphasis on ‘business case’ and ‘best practice’
  • Additional link to “welfare to work” policy (Douglas and Freedland 2007)
slide13

New Labour: flexibility and the business case

  • Costs of recruitment vs retention
    • Transaction costs
    • Training costs
    • Employer branding and recruitment costs
labour s policy agenda
Labour’s Policy Agenda
  • Employment Relations Act 1999
    • extension of maternity leave to 12 months
    • limited right to parental leave
    • limited right to paid paternity leave
    • right to ‘request’ flexible working
  • Incremental additions to maternity leave
  • Incremental additions to paternity leave
labour s policy agenda1
Labour’s Policy Agenda
  • Related importance of EU Directives on...
    • Parental leave
    • Working time
    • Part time workers
    • Temporary workers
as things stand
As things stand...

Maternity leave = 9 months @ 90% full pay; 3 months unpaid

Paternity leave = 2 weeks paid @ 90% full pay

Parental leave = up to 13 weeks unpaid parental leave for each child to age 5

Right to transfer maternity leave between parents

Right to request flexible working hours (good business reason required if refused)

Right to (unpaid) time off for ‘family emergencies’

wlb and employee voice
WLB and Employee Voice
  • “right to request” principle in WLB implies link
  • employment rights enhancements individual not collective (Smith and Morton 2001;2006)
  • …leaving gap in enactment
  • Voice conventionally distinguished as being
      • Employee Participation (e.g. collective bargaining)
      • Employee involvement (one way; unitarist oriented)
employer attitudes evidence
Employer Attitudes: Evidence
  • Some employer buy-in to WLB business case, however
  • WERS2004 manager attitudes:
        • WLB viewed as individual choice
          • 69% in private sector; 47% in public
          • more frequent in SMEs
          • less frequent where union recognised
slide22

Employer Attitudes: Evidence (Roper et al 2003)

  • broad support for ‘family friendly policies’
  • more support for the abstract principle than practical advantages:
      • ideological basis of support among managers outweighed opposition...
      • Whereas business-case opposition outweighed business-case support
2007 follow up
2007 Follow-up
  • Survey follow-up to 2000 survey (2007)
  • Ask approval and benefit of range of WLB-oriented policies
  • Voice categorised to WERS terminology
  • Significant problems with data collection
    • no response bias data and low response rate (190)
    • uses restricted to use as pilot
findings general views on wlb
Findings: General views on WLB
  • Approval ratings (Likert 7-point scale)
    • Maternity Leave 3.57
    • Parental Leave 3.74
    • Paternity leave 3.04
    • Adoption leave 3.99
    • Flexible working hours 3.43
    • Continuous employment beyond retirement 2.59
findings general views on wlb1
Findings: General views on WLB
  • Impact ratings (Likert 7-point scale)
    • Maternity Leave 4.66
    • Parental Leave 4.42
    • Paternity leave 4.25
    • Adoption leave 4.47
    • Flexible working hours 4.29
    • Continuous employment beyond retirement 3.52
findings general views on wlb2
Findings: General views on WLB
  • Significant difference depending on job title of respondent. e.g. maternity leave approval...
    • HR Function = 80%
    • General/line manager = 53%
    • Director/CEO = 34%
    • Other management = 24%
    • all = 52%
  • This replicated 2000 findings
employee voice and wlb
Employee Voice and WLB
  • Approval ratings (maternity leave)
    • Union consultation = 75%
    • Non-union reps = 62.5%
    • Workforce meetings = 58%
    • Team briefings = 55%
    • Intranet = 64%
    • Staff survey = 75%
    • Suggestion scheme 56%
    • “Open door” management philosophy 53%
    • (All) 54%
employee voice and implied management style
Employee voice and implied management style
  • Proxies created from hybrid
  • Range of models
      • Purcell (1987) Storey and Bacon (1993) Marchington and Parker (1990), Sisson (200), Guest & Conway (1999)
  • Participation = yes/no
  • Involvement = cumulative
employee voice and implied management style1
Employee voice and implied management style
  • Voice mechanisms =
    • Collective, ‘participation’
        • Union recognition, EWC
    • Individual, ‘involvement’
        • Non-union reps, team briefings, intranet, staff survey, suggestion schemes
    • No voice
        • None of above, or only ‘open-door management philosophy’
employee voice and implied management style4
Employee voice and implied management style

Positive association between approval of bundle of WLB policies and presence of collective voice

Positive association with general presence of voice mechanisms

new research and caveats
New Research and Caveats
  • Further analysis of existing data:
      • Multivariate analysis indicates complex interaction between gender composition and skill-mix of workforce
  • Existing dataset is limited for further analysis
  • New survey?
  • “things have moved on”…
things have moved on
Things have moved on
  • The recession
    • Essence of Govt approach (voluntarism; best practice) undermined?
    • Employer using flexibility to mitigate against redundancy?
    • The ‘new backlash’ (Christine Brewer; Katherine Hakim)
  • General Election (May 2010)
    • New Labour’s new enthusiasm for equality?
    • ‘Red Toryism’?
new new labour
New-New-Labour?
  • Consolidation of equalities
    • Equalities and Human Rights Commission
    • Equalities Bill 2010
  • The rediscovery of income inequality
    • Institutional barriers
    • Active duty to promote equality by public bodies
labour manifesto
Labour Manifesto
  • More flexibility to transfer maternity leave after 6 months
  • ‘Fathers Month’ paid leave
  • Extend ‘right to request’ to grandparents
red tories philip blond
‘Red Tories’?(Philip Blond)
  • 2007: Cameron ‘detoxifying’ the brand
  • 2007: No longer the ‘mouthpiece of big business’
  • Circa 2008: Conservative Women’s Policy Group (circa 2008)
    • Retain all existing
    • Strengthen equal pay audit system
    • Extend right to request flexible working (but with no compulsion)
red tories
‘Red Tories’?
  • ...or ‘same old Tories’?
    • Renewed hostility to EU
    • Opt-out of Working Time Directive
    • Married couple’s tax allowance
    • Means-test family tax credits
manifesto
Manifesto
  • Extend ‘right to request’ to
    • All parents with child under 18
    • Everyone in public sector
    • ...eventually to everyone
  • Extend right to request flexible working (but with no compulsion)
summary
Summary
  • UK regulatory approach to WLB framed by...
    • Incrementalism
    • Link to welfare agenda
    • Link to flexibility
  • Seems to have reached new political consensus
    • ‘WLB is good’
    • But strongly tied to business-case and voluntarism
    • May lead to polarisation in labour market segments