Working time and managing care under Labor: whose flexibility?

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Heron, A
Charlesworth, S
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National Institute of Labour Studies
Since the Labor Government’s election in 2007, debate around working-time flexibility has continued unabated. Employers argue that increasing employer-orientated flexibility through changes to minimum working-time standards and individual flexibility agreements is the path to enhanced productivity and a more effective economy. Unions and others have focused on the need for greater employee-orientated flexibility to facilitate combining work and care. However, on neither side of the debate has much attention been paid to basic principles that might inform working-time regulation in ways that would enable individual workers to manage their work and care responsibilities better and deliver a more sustainable and gender-equitable economy. The article outlines recent contestation around flexibility and argues that without ensuring adequate minimum working-time standards for all workers, the gendered divide around work and care will continue to be reinforced.
Heron, A. and Charlesworth, S., 2012. Working time and managing care under Labor: whose flexibility? Australian Bulletin of Labour, Vol. 38 No. 3, pp. 214-233.