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Lacking balance? Work‐life employment practices in the modern economy

Jeff Hyman (University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK)
Juliette Summers (University of Stirling, Stirling, UK)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 1 August 2004



The UK has operated a lightly regulated approach to help employees balance their work and domestic obligations, an approach which employers have welcomed and which they and Government consider to be successful. On the basis of empirical studies this paper challenges these assumptions and outcomes. Apart from definitional difficulties, seven major problems associated with current UK practice over work‐life balance are identified. The first problem concerns unevenness of adoption across different sectors and organisations. The second is a lack of formalisation of policies at organisational level, with largely untrained line mangers having discretion over policy application. Third, there is restricted employee voice over the introduction and implementation of policies. Fourth, policies are introduced primarily to meet business needs, rather than those of employees. Fifth, there is no evidence of reductions in working hours. Sixth, tangible and intangible work intrusions into domestic life have been identified. Finally, domestic responsibilities are still conducted primarily by women irrespective of their employment status. The researchers conclude that many employees continue to face difficulty in reconciling their work and domestic responsibilities.



Hyman, J. and Summers, J. (2004), "Lacking balance? Work‐life employment practices in the modern economy", Personnel Review, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 418-429.



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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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