The government promised (in the 2004 Pre-Budget Report) to extend paid maternity leave from 26 weeks to 39 by April 2007, and to a full year by the end of the following Parliament. It also pledged legislation, by the end of the following Parliament, allowing mothers to hand over some, or all, of their maternity leave entitlement to the child's father.
Source: Pre-Budget Report 2004: Opportunity for All - The strength to take the long-term decisions for Britain, Cm 6408, HM Treasury, TSO (0870 600 5522) | House of Commons Hansard, Debate 2 December 2004, columns 781-804, TSO
A report said that a combination of long hours and high-pressure jobs was affecting peoples sleep, and creating a vicious circle of tiredness and stress. Sleep was the forgotten dimension of the work/life balance debate.
Source: Charles Leadbeater, Dream On: Sleep in the 24/7 society, Demos, available from Central Books (020 8986 5488)
A think-tank report said that employers should give employees more freedom to fit work around their personal values and aspirations. More employees were likely in future to want to be active citizens as well as paid employees during work hours.
Source: Paul Miller and Paul Skidmore, Disorganisation: Why future organisations should loosen up, Demos, available from Central Books (020 8986 5488)
A survey found that fathers felt unable to afford to take up their statutory right to two weeks' paternity leave paid at the existing rate of £102.80 per week and were unlikely to be significantly more motivated by £150 per week.
Source: Flexible Working and Paternity Leave: The full rate for fatherhood, Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (020 8971 9000)
A study found that 1 in 3 (2.41 million) families with children had a parent who regularly worked at the weekend. Among families with at least one working parent, this proportion rose to 4 in 10. Although the majority of weekend working involved working on a Saturday, a significant number of parents were working regularly on a Sunday.
Source: Matt Barnes and Caroline Bryson, Keep Time for Children: The incidence of weekend working, National Centre for Social Research (020 7250 1866)
A trade union report said that removing the opt-out by the United Kingdom from the European Union Working Time Directive was essential to enable workers to balance work and family life. Personnel specialists said that the majority of people actually working over 48 hours per week chose to do so.
Source: More Time for Families: Tackling the long hours crisis in UK workplaces, Trades Union Congress (020 7467 1294) and Working Families | Press release 3 September 2004, Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (020 8971 9000)
An article used the experiences of homeworkers from different socio-economic backgrounds to explore the question of whether working from home improved people's capacity to balance their work and life commitments.
Source: Tracey Crosbie and Jeanne Moore, 'Worklife balance and working from home', Social Policy and Society, Volume 3 Issue 3
An issue of the journal Community, Work & Family contained a series of articles on different aspects of work-life balance.
Source: Community, Work & Family, Volume 7 Number 2
Links: Issue contents
An evaluation of the first three months of the work-life balance challenge fund (providing financial aid to employers to help them develop work-life balance policies and practices) found that the vast majority of employers had positively benefited from participation.
Source: Adrian Nelson, Kathryn Nemec, Pernille Solvik and Chris Ramsden, The Evaluation of the Work-life Balance Challenge Fund, Employment Relations Research Series 32, Department of Trade and Industry (020 7215 5177)
Links: Report (pdf)
The government published a five-year reform plan for children and learning. It said it would explore options for extending support for parents in the first year of their child's life, including extending maternity and paternity pay and leave.
Source: Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners, Cm 6272, Department for Education and Skills, TSO (0870 600 5522)
A survey found that many households relied on domestic help in order to function effectively. Over half of those employing domestic workers said that, without care support, they could not do paid work.
Source: Alexandra Jones, Domestics: UK domestic workers and their reluctant employers, Work Foundation (0870 165 6700)
A paper investigated the relationship between work and family life. It was found that transitions in and out of employment for men were relatively independent of other transitions. In contrast, there were strong links between female employment, having children and forming family unions. Different levels of female labour force participation did not necessarily lead to large changes in fertility levels. Changes in union formation and fertility levels, on the other hand, did have a significant impact on employment rates.
Source: Simon Burgess, Arnstein Aassve, Carol Propper and Matt Dickson, Employment, Family Union, and Childbearing Decisions in Great Britain, CASEpaper 84, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion/London School of Economics (020 7955 6679)
Links: Paper (pdf)
A survey found that most employers thought new rights to request flexible working had so far had little impact, with few problems and a relatively low take-up rate. The report recommended that age restrictions should be removed; and that there should be a right to have flexible hours rather than a right to request them, unless there was an objective business justification for not granting the request. (From April 2003 parents of children aged under six were entitled to request flexible working arrangements from their employer.)
Source: Christine Camp, Right to Request Flexible Working: Review of impact in first year of legislation, Working Families (020 7253 7243)
An official survey found that employers were granting almost 8 out of 10 requests to work flexibly from parents with young children.
Source: Tom Palmer, Results of the First Flexible Working Employee Survey, Department of Trade and Industry (020 7215 5177)
A survey found that many parents who asked for flexible work when their children were young had to accept a cut in their salary or job status.
Source: Happy Anniversary? The right to request flexible work one year on, Maternity Alliance (020 7490 7639)
A survey found strong employee support for the importance of achieving work-life balance. There appeared to have been a significant increase since 2000 in the reported availability and take-up of several (but not all) flexible working practices. However, despite relatively high demand for flexible working practices, employees were not always convinced that many of the flexible working arrangements would be feasible for their job. There was also some employee concern about the consequences of adopting flexible working practices for their job security and career prospects.
Source: Jane Stevens, Juliet Brown and Caroline Lee, The Second Work-Life Balance Study: Results from the employees' survey, Employment Relations Research Series 27, Department of Trade and Industry (020 7215 5177)
An official survey found that 8 in 10 employees would like to spend more time with friends and family in 2004, if only they could balance their work and lives more effectively.
Source: Press release 9 January 2004, Department for Transport (020 7944 3000)