HARMONIZING PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL BALANCE: STUDY OF EMPLOYERS' FAMILY FRIENDLY POLICIES IN THE U.K.
This study seeks to show that there are several different family friendly policies being utilized by employers in the U.K. And that these have been necessary for some time. The three main policies are: part-time work, flex-time (flexible start and finish times) and teleworking. All three of these policies are important for working mums and others that would like to have time with their families or for other pursuits. However, not all employers are interested in offering these kinds of arrangements, and many prefer to stick with the traditional work schedule where individuals all come in at a certain time and all leave at a certain time. There is increasing evidence, though, that this does not work well for many people in the U.K. And this is the reason for studying this issue and determining what would be the best choice for everyone.
Through a solid introduction to the issue and a thorough review of the literature that is involved with it, the study will show how very important much of these family friendly policies are and how they are often overlooked by employers who do not want to break with tradition. However, many working mums could utilize these if only their employers were willing to allow them, and if more mums and employers knew about the possibilities for these family friendly ideas. Many of these policies have not been studied a great deal, and it is therefore necessary that studies such as this be conducted, so that more can be learned and discovered about this issue and more people in the U.K. can benefit from it.
INTRODUCTION AND MOTIVATION
The world is constantly changing. From the times of post world war two to the emergence of the neo-liberal agenda in 1975, economists are now speaking about free markets and the decline of bureaucratic capitalism. We are witnessing a continuous and dramatic shift as we are moving forward into the 21st century. This change has affected organizations all over the world in a number of ways. For example, the 1980s introduced the concept of flexibility in organizational working. Flexibility was largely driven by the employers to maximize profit and productivity. However, little concern was given to the employee benefits.
The continuous tussle between the employers and the employees has given rise to the introduction of family friendly policies. This has further led to the popularity of the concept of work life balance. This dissertation aims to identify the most commonly used practices adopted by organizations when implementing family friendly policies. It also aims to understand what influence these practices have on the organization by considering the way they affect, and are affected by, employers and employees.
Changing Nature of Work
The nature of work has been changing at a fairly rapid pace since the early days of industrialization. The period immediately following World War II was marked by prosperity and rising expectations in Europe and other parts of the world. One significant event that occurred in this era was the expectation that a job should be something taken for the long-term, where there is a well ordered relationship between the worker and the company, where the employee would receive a secure livelihood and the prospect of growth in income as well as personal fulfillment. The employment relationship was described as a labor market that matched up buyers and sellers of skills and efforts, and many employers and employees operated within sets of rules and customs that governed movement from one job to another and kept levels of compensation within certain bounds.
During the mid 1960s, the workers were involved in internal labor markets. In the manufacturing firms, the unions often acted as vehicles for negotiating rules of the workplace, which would typically define the tasks to be performed, establish performance standards, set pay scales and determine procedures for filling vacancies. In the non-unionized settings, the rules were set by other mechanisms but fulfilled similar functions: to set up an internal system for allocating human resources. The employees joined the firms that were exposed to external labor market (i.e. The economic forces of the larger society). Once the employee gained entry, he or she would progress according to the particular rules and customs of the organization.
Marshall (1992) described the idea that social citizenship rights encompassed 'the whole range' from the right to a modicum of economic welfare and security to the right to share to the full in the social heritage and life of a civilized being. This idea was developed out of the experience of unemployment and poverty during the inter-war years, and was put into practice during the Second World War. It was only in the 1960s and 1970s that it was found a full expression in the post war consensus. During the post world war decade, the idea of social citizenship involved a full employment macroeconomic policy based on Keynes's argument that the recession of the 1930s was because of the lack of effective demand and a reorganization of education allowing more general access.
This principle also required that the unemployed not be pressed into employment on any terms. The credibility of the contributory principle, its effectiveness as a tool for job search and the need to protect the labor market status of the individuals suffering from involuntary job loss required rules to prevent the undue harassment of benefit recipients. As the full employment policy guaranteed the right to work and earned income, the role of the social welfare was to provide an income replacement safety net against temporary unemployment, old age and sickness.
A school of economics was inspired by the theoretical contributions of John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), who was an English economist. Keynes argued that government spending and investment function as means of disbursing purchasing power into the economy affect the demand for consumer goods in the same way as private investment. He suggested increasing government expenditures during deflationary periods and decreasing it during inflationary periods as a means of manipulating aggregate spending and income. By prescribing governmental intervention to maintain adequate levels of employment, Keynesianism paved they way for the growth of the welfare state in the wake of the Great Depression.
Where as neo-liberalism was a variation on the classical liberalism of the 19th century when British and other imperialisms used the ideology of competition and 'free trade' to justify their own colonialisms, worker revolt in the 1930s and the anti-colonial struggles ended classical liberalism but was contained by Keynesianism:government management of the wage, the welfare state and 'development'. An international cycle of worker, student, peasant, woman, and pro-ecology revolt in the 1960s ended. Keynesianism was then actually replaced by neoliberalism.
Strength of neo-liberalism
The main ideology behind neo-liberalism was the worship of the 'market' and subordination of all other economic actors to its demands, including government and individuals. The strategy of neo-liberal economics was characterized by privatization, reduced social expenditures, lower wages, higher profits, free trade, free capital mobility and the accelerated commodification of nature. With the emergence of neo-liberalism, things changed dramatically since post World War II, the economists talked about free markets and there was decline of bureaucratic capitalism. Neo-liberal agendas were a response to inflexibility and fordism and Keynesian said that they needed to free up the market.
Emergence of neo-liberalism was characterized by free circulation of capital and freedom of investment. In contrast to the orthodoxy that prevailed in the 1950s and 1960s, the neo-liberal economists of the late 1970s and 1980s argued that inflation results from increases in the money supply induced mainly by the expansionary macroeconomic policy. According to Brendan Buchell et al. (2002), the economic progress was fostered by an increase in the flexibility in the labour market. The essence of the argument was that the rights won during the aftermath of the Second World War had impeded the effective working of the economy and it was time to insist on a different set of rights, policy, applications of which would reflect the ideology, not of 'social citizenship', but of 'individual economic freedom.'
But the rejection of social citizenship came at a price, and it was a price paid by the weakest members of the society, as the adoption of neo-liberal perspective shifted responsibility for unemployment and poverty away from the government and on to the jobless and the poor. This occurred despite the shift in the terminology away from 'free market 'to 'third way' should one underestimate the continuing strength of the neo-liberal philosophy. Over the past two decades this philosophy has served as the basis for an opportunistic alliance between vote-seeking political parties offering tax cuts and opportunities for profits created by deregulation. It was a very powerful alliance.
During the 1980s, organizations faced a tremendous pressure of change. Some of the factors responsible for this were market stagnation, job loss, uncertainty, technological changes etc. As a result the firms found themselves under pressure to find more flexible ways…