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Article
Publication date: 11 December 2019

Wee Chan Au, Uracha Chatrakul Na Ayudhya, Yan Soon Tan and Pervaiz K. Ahmed

The purpose of this paper is to explore the work-life (WL) experiences of live-in women migrant domestic workers (MDWs), who represent a significant proportion of migrant…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the work-life (WL) experiences of live-in women migrant domestic workers (MDWs), who represent a significant proportion of migrant workers globally. MDWs play a key role in enabling the work-life balance (WLB) of others, namely the middle-class households that employ them. Yet, their experiences have largely been invisible in mainstream WL literature. The authors draw on an intersectional approach to frame the WL experiences of this marginalized group of women at the intersection of being secondary labour segment workers, with significant legal and employment restrictions as migrant workers, who work and live in the same place as their employers.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative interviews were conducted with 13 women MDWs from Indonesia and the Philippines working in Malaysia. The women talked about the meaning of work as MDWs, how they maintain familial connections whilst working abroad, and how they negotiate their WLB as live-in workers. Thematic analysis of the interviews focused on the intersection of the women’s multiple dimensions of disadvantage, including gender, class and temporary migrant-foreigner status, in shaping their accounts of the WL interface.

Findings

Three thematic narratives highlight that any semblance of WLB in the MDWs’ lived experience has given way to the needs of their employers and to the imperative to earn an income for their families back home. The themes are: working as MDWs enables the women and their families back home to have a life; the co-existence of WL boundary segmentation and integration in relation to “real” and “temporary” families; and the notion of WLB being centred around the women’s ability to fulfil their multiple duties as MDWs and absent mothers/sisters/daughters.

Research limitations/implications

The study is based on a small sample of live-in women MDWs in Malaysia, intended to promote typically excluded voices and not to provide generalizable findings. Accessing potential participants was a considerable challenge, given the vulnerable positions of women MDWs and the invisible nature of their work.

Practical implications

Future research should adopt a multi-stakeholder approach to studying the WL experiences of women MDWs. In particular, links with non-governmental organizations who work directly with women MDWs should be established as a way of improving future participant access.

Social implications

The study underscores the existence of policies and regulations that tolerate and uphold social inequalities that benefit primary labour segment workers to the detriment of secondary labour segment workers, including women MDWs.

Originality/value

Extant WL literature is dominated by the experiences of “the ideal work-life balancers”, who tend to be white middle-class women, engaged in professional work. This study offers original contribution by giving voice to a taken-for-granted group of women migrant workers who make other people’s WLB possible. Moreover, the study challenges WL research by underscoring the power inequities that shape the participants’ marginal and disadvantaged lived experience of work, life, family and WLB.

Details

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, vol. 39 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-7149

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 13 July 2015

Uracha Chatrakul Na Ayudhya

– Explores the limited value of concepts such as Baby-Boomer, Generation X (Gen X) and Generation Y (Gen Y) and advances the view that life course is more valuable.

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Abstract

Purpose

Explores the limited value of concepts such as Baby-Boomer, Generation X (Gen X) and Generation Y (Gen Y) and advances the view that life course is more valuable.

Design/methodology/approach

Examines how young adults in Britain, born between 1975 and 1982, conceptualized the notion of work-life balance as they were about to leave university and enter full-time paid employment.

Findings

Reveals that the notion of individual choice strongly underpins young adults’ conceptualization of work-life balance and expectations of work-life balance support; while young British and Asian adults largely considered it to be a matter of individual choice, there were variations in their preferences for how to prioritize their impending employment and personal lives; and four emerging patterns of work-life balance orientation preferences were found – balancer, careerist, career-sacrificer and integrator.

Practical implications

Provides support for the argument that the work-life balance perceptions of young adults who would belong to the so-called Gen Y cannot be generalized and simplified as being either work-centric or life-centric. The picture is a lot more complex given the diversity within this group of young adults.

Social implications

Highlights how, instead of looking for generational differences (or age-related differences) which can be divisive, it is more useful to look at the issue of multi-generations in a broader way.

Originality/value

By using a life-course approach instead of a generational approach, is able to take into account how past transitions have shaped the way work-life balance was discussed by the young adults and how anticipated future transitions were expected by the young adults to change their needs and therefore expectations of employer and government support.

Details

Human Resource Management International Digest, vol. 23 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0967-0734

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 13 July 2015

Uracha Chatrakul Na Ayudhya, Rea Prouska and Suzan Lewis

– Advances the view that work-life balance (WLB) can benefit business during financial crisis and austerity.

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2093

Abstract

Purpose

Advances the view that work-life balance (WLB) can benefit business during financial crisis and austerity.

Design/methodology/approach

Draws evidence from studies in Britain and southeastern Europe.

Findings

Introduces and explains the dual-agenda approach as a potential framework for human resources (HR) specialists, managers and employers.

Practical implications

Argues that part of the main challenge for HR is to convince senior and line management of the need for flexible working arrangements. In order to do this, HR should take charge in monitoring the effectiveness of policies, including implementation and take-up rates and especially in evaluating flexible working practices that are often developed from the bottom up.

Social implications

Describes how HR’s role in developing strategies for overcoming resistance to change among managers and others is important, and outlines such barriers to success as gendered assumptions about ideal workers who do not need time for family.

Originality/value

Argues that while WLB initiatives can be good for business and a good way of managing recession and austerity, it is crucial not to lose sight of employee needs.

Details

Human Resource Management International Digest, vol. 23 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0967-0734

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 30 May 2020

T. Alexandra Beauregard, Maria Adamson, Aylin Kunter, Lilian Miles and Ian Roper

This article serves as an introduction to six articles featured in a special issue on diversity in the work–life interface. This collection of papers contains research…

Abstract

Purpose

This article serves as an introduction to six articles featured in a special issue on diversity in the work–life interface. This collection of papers contains research that contemplates the work–life interface in different geographic and cultural contexts, that explores the work–life experiences of minority, marginalized and/or underresearched groups of workers and that takes into account diverse arrangements made to fulfill both work and nonwork responsibilities.

Design/methodology/approach

This introductory article first summarizes some of the emerging research in this area, introduces the papers in this special issue and links them to these themes and ends with highlighting the importance of using an intersectional lens in future investigations of the work–life interface.

Findings

These six articles provide empirically based insights, as well as new theoretical considerations for studying the interface between paid work and personal life roles. Compelling new research directions are identified.

Originality/value

Introducing the new articles in this special issue and reviewing recent research in this area brings together the work–life interface scholarship and diversity management studies and points to the necessity for future investigations to take an intersectional and contextualized approach to their subject matter.

Details

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, vol. 39 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-7149

Keywords

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