Modern Workplaces and Modern Families: Revising the Work-Family Concept

Michelle Weldon-Johns


The recent government response to the Consultation on Modern Workplaces proposes revisions to the current administration and concept of parental leave alongside extending the right to request flexible working to other employees. These proposals in many ways reflect the package of rights available in Sweden. While the experience in Sweden suggests that this may encourage greater utilisation of parental leave, and in particular, increase fathers' uptake of such rights, it is unlikely to fundamentally challenge their underpinning gendered nature. In this paper it is argued that instead of focusing on re-branding the current package of rights, the legislation should instead re-envision the concept of the family. The traditional male breadwinner and dual breadwinner families have been the typical focus of these rights, so this approach will be critically contrasted with a focus on a wider understanding of the family encompassing intergenerational, multi-household and other atypical family care models. It is argued that such an approach may offer a more appropriate understanding of the work-family conflict which better addresses the cmpeting needs of working carers and atypical family forms.


work-life balance; parental leave; right to request flexible working; male breadwinner family; dual breadwinner family; atypical families; work and care

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