Working Time in the Employment Relationship: Perceived Control and Work-Life Balance
THE EDWARD ELGAR RESEARCH HANDBOOK ON WORK AND EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS, Chapter 10, pp. 188-211, K. Townsend and A. Wilkinson, eds., Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, 2011
34 Pages Posted: 8 May 2010 Last revised: 22 Sep 2011
Date Written: May 1, 2010
The consequences of hours of employment for a worker’s work-life interface depends not only on the number of hours of work but also whether a worker perceives that they have some discretion over the setting and timing of their work hours and schedule. When a worker perceives to lack such discretion, this may have at least as much adverse effect on work-life balance as working long or extra hours. This research analyzes data from a large nationally representative survey in the US that permit observation of six indicators of employee-centered flexibility, discretion or control that may or may not be available to workers. Three types of flexibility include the extent to which the employee sets their own scheduled hours, can vary their daily starting and quitting times of work and can take time off during the work day. Three types of inflexibility include whether their overtime hours of work are required by their employer, work shift times are irregular and actual hours of work are longer than their preferred number of hours. Multinomial regression analysis finds that a longer duration of weekly hours, extra days worked per month and working full-time work hours enhances both conflict and fatigue. When controlling for these effects of longer hours, however, having discretion in setting their own work schedule, an ability to vary their own starting and quitting times of work and to take time off during the work day are all associated with lower work-life conflict. Similarly, an inability to refuse overtime work or to realize a preference for part-time hours, and working irregular shift times, are all associated with greater work-family conflict. Having discretion over schedule, ability to take time off during the day and flexible start and end times are all associated with less daily fatigue among full-time workers and salaried workers, however, not among hourly paid workers. Having mandatory overtime work is associated with greater frequency of fatigue, but working irregular shift times has no relation to fatigue. The analysis suggests that an employment relationship of the future that features the type of flexibility which permits better integration of work with non-work time, will promote better daily work-life balance. In particular, granting employees more autonomy to set and adjust the timing of their work schedules will help counter the deleterious effects of longer work hours on the daily well being of workers. The implications for collective action through public policy or collective bargaining, in countries such as US and Australia, are that creating more individualized working time structures and options for more workers would better facilitate daily work-life balance.
Keywords: working time, hours of work, overtime, work schedules, flexibility, well being, work-life, work-family
JEL Classification: J22, J28
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
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