Friday, 28 February 2014

Leading academics and policy-makers discuss the future of work-life balance

A consortium of universities, led by Professor Suzan Lewis (Department of Leadership, Work and Organisations) and Dr Nicky Payne (Department of Psychology) at Middlesex, along with the charity Working Families, are addressing one of the current challenges of the workplace through a series of ESRC funded seminars, ‘Work Life Balance in the Recession and Beyond’. The series examines the work-life balance challenges for employees, employers and policy-makers posed by economic recession and austerity measures.

The first of seven events was hosted at Middlesex on Friday 17th January and was attended by academics from across Europe, as well as representatives from policy-makers such as the International Labour Organization, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Local Government Association and ACAS, and representatives from industry leaders such as Ford and Barclays.

The seminar focused on the impact of economic pressures on work-life balance policies, practices and discourse, and the implications for individuals, families, organisations, policy-makers and the wider community. Professor Lewis opened proceedings with a forth-coming paper, co-authored with Dr Payne and colleagues, entitled ‘Public sector austerity cuts and the work-life balance agenda: under threat or a burning platform for change?’

Discussions focused on key issues faced by those present. Issues raised included the advantages of and limitations to organizational work-life balance practices under austerity, the provision of the right to request flexible working and upcoming changes to legislation; the impact on work life balance of unpaid care for children and elderly relatives provided by parents and grandparents; individualism and collectivism in formulating and implementing work-life balance policies and practices at both government and workplace levels; and the variety of policies and practices across countries and across different workplaces and different types of workers and work. Future seminars will focus more specifically on how issues and dilemmas may be taken forward and addressed.

Presentations and findings from each seminar and details of forthcoming seminars will be disseminated on the website . For further information or if you are interested in attending future seminars please visit the website or contact Professor Lewis and Dr Payne at .

The next seminar 'Work-life balance (WLB), fairness and social justice during recession and austerity' is on April 11th 2014 at the University of Manchester.

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