Family-friendliness of working time provisions in Australian enterprise agreements

Anderson, Evelyn A (1999) Family-friendliness of working time provisions in Australian enterprise agreements. Coursework Master thesis, Victoria University of Technology.


Many workers report difficulty in balancing work and family responsibilities and a critical factor in this difficulty is time demands. The workplace bargaining provisions and the minimal protection provisions in the Industrial Relations Reform Act 1993 were promoted by the Government as an opportunity to address work and family issues. This study investigates the manner in which work and family issues have been addressed in agreements registered in this industrial framework by considering two questions: (i) what evidence is there of changes to working time arrangements within selected agreements that purport to be family-friendly; and (ii) have these changes been consistent with the promotion of a family-friendly workplace? Eleven agreements that were reported by the Department of Industrial Relations as containing family-friendly provisions were selected for examination. The working time provisions contained in the contents of the agreements were compared with the parallel provisions in preexisting awards and agreements to establish whether changes had occurred. Changes to working time provisions were assessed according to whether they promoted family-friendliness. Two of the most important principles for workers with family responsibilities are the ability determine the amount and schedule of working hours and the ability to vary working hours. Workplaces can assist employees in the balance between work and family responsibilities by providing a diverse range of consistently family-friendly working time options within a family supportive workplace culture. Most agreements provide extensive evidence of changes to the amount, the schedule and the variability of working time. However, on the question of the direction of the changes, these agreements provide evidence of family-friendly changes as well as changes that detract from work and family balance. In particular, changes to provisions that concerned the amount of working time, such as part-time employment and access to carer's leave, were consistently family-friendly, while changes to schedule and variability of working time both enhanced and detracted from family-friendliness. Only two of the eleven agreements have addressed work and family issues by changing a diverse range of working time provisions in a consistently family-friendly direction within family supportive frameworks. The extent to which a lack of consistency, or a lack of diversity, or an absence of family-supportive environmental parameters, has limited the promotion of family friendliness in the other nine agreements requires further workplace investigation. Although family-friendliness has been enhanced in these agreements through changes to a broad range of working time provisions within family-supportive environmental parameters, the degree of enhancement has been tempered by changes that are not family-friendly.

Additional Information

Master of Business in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management

Item type Thesis (Coursework Master thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Historical > FOR Classification > 1605 Policy and Administration
Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Faculty of Business and Law
Keywords work-life balance, flextime, family, leave of absence, collective labour agreements, workplace bargaining, Australia
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