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Will The Real Family-Friendly Employer Please Stand Up: Who Permits Parents To Reduce Working Hours For Purposes of Childcare?

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  • Robert Hutchens

    ()

  • Patrick Nolen

    ()

Abstract

Balancing work and family life can be a challenge, especially when a person needs to adjust her work schedule to deal with a family crisis. If the crisis involves a long term problem, such as caring for a sick or injured child that requires several months of care, the balancing act can require major shifts in the role an employee plays in a firm. This paper examines how an employer reacts to such a family-work issue: an employee who want to move from full-time to part-time in order to care for a young child. Most empirical work in this area deals with formal policies such as maternity leave, paternity leave, or leave beyond that required by the Family and Medical Leave Act and maps the type of formal policies a firm has into some "family-friendly" index. Switching from full-time to part-time is usually an informal process and it is not obvious how a firm ranking high on an index based of formal "family-friendly" policies would respond to such a request. Indeed, organizations with codified formal policies may be precisely the kinds of employers who do not permit such a shift from full-time to part-time. This is in fact what we find. Larger organizations are much more likely to provide formal policies such as paid maternity and paternity leave, while establishments that are not part of larger organizations are more likely to permit an employee to shift to part-time in order to care for a young child. These results suggests that family-friendly indexes that are based on formal policies may be unfairly labelling smaller firms "unfriendly" towards families simply because they use informal approaches to deal with family crises.

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Paper provided by University of Essex, Department of Economics in its series Economics Discussion Papers with number 622.

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Date of creation: 04 Nov 2006
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Handle: RePEc:esx:essedp:622

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