The influence of working time arrangements on work-life integration or ‘balance’: A review of the international evidence

C. Fagan, C. Lyonette, M. Smith, A. Saldaña-Tejeda

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Abstract

This paper provides a comprehensive synthesis of previous research examining the link between different aspects of working time and outcomes in terms of work-life “integration” or “balance”, which includes but is not limited to the reconciliation of work and family life. It also explicitly considers the extent to which various types of working time arrangements not only facilitate work-life balance, but also promote, or hinder, gender equality in both the labour market and in personal life. These are crucial issues, both because of the continuing prevalence of long hours of work, especially in developing countries, and also in terms of the diversification of working time arrangements away from the so-called “standard workweek” (i.e., a Monday to Friday or Saturday daytime schedule). The paper begins by conceptualizing and measuring work-life “integration” or “balance”, reviewing the different types of terminology used and the dimensions of working time arrangements pertaining to this topic. It then considers the effects of the volume (quantity) of working hours on work-life balance, and finds that long working hours have been identified as an important predictor of work–life conflict. In contrast, workers working part-time were the most likely to report compatibility between their job and family life, even when compared with women and men withoutdependent children. Finally, it considers the effects of work schedules on various measures of work-life balance. It concludes that “non-standard” work schedules—such as shift work, night work, and weekend work—substantially increase work–family incompatibility. In contrast, where workers have some autonomy and control over their work schedules, or the scope to choose particular hours of work,this has a positive effect not only on work-life balance, but on workers’ health and well-being as well. Overall, the growing diversification in the organisation of working time raises questions about its impact on workers’ work-life balance, as well as the need for an awareness of this dimension when considering workers’ and employers’ preferences regarding working time. At the same time, this trendis also promising in the sense that it might offer “win-win” solutions that could potentially benefit both workers and employers. It is hoped that this study will provide useful guidance regarding how to respond to new trends and developments in the area of working time and develop innovative, mutually beneficial working-time arrangements.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGeneva
PublisherInternational Labour Organization
Number of pages60
ISBN (Print)2226-8952
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameConditions of Work and Employment Series
PublisherInternational Labour Office

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