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Contested time: family-friendly working time policy in Germany and the United Kingdom

Warth, Lisa Christina (2008) Contested time: family-friendly working time policy in Germany and the United Kingdom. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Access to family-friendly working time arrangements is unequally spread both within and between workplaces, leaving many working parents with difficulties in combining employment with family responsibilities. The British and German governments have started to address this problem, but have done so in different ways. Focusing on time allocation in the work/family interface and its implications for gender and employment relations, this thesis explores the differences between the British and German government strategies to improve access to family-friendly working time arrangements for working parents, and how variation can be explained. As the flexibility requirements of employers and employees often diverge and can be in conflict, the thesis further investigates to what extent the German and British policy strategies were designed to empower working parents to access the time flexibility they need. It applies an empowerment perspective to the analysis of policy choice and design and draws on the policy making literature to analyse cross-national variation. Between 1997 and 2005, the incoming centre-left New Labour and ‘Red-Green’ governments both introduced information campaigns and employment rights to improve access. The lack of economic incentives for the provision and take-up of family-friendly working time arrangements reduced the overall empowering potential of the British and German strategies. Although similar at the level of policy choice, employment rights and information campaigns varied at the level of policy design with different implications for access. The thesis concludes that family-friendly working time policy did not achieve a significant redistribution of control over working time to employees in either of the two countries. This can be in part explained by a strong employer lobby and opportunities to influence policy choice and design, but also by the ‘competitive advantage’ of childcare services over family-friendly working time policy, directing government resources to more ‘employer-friendly’ reconciliation policies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2008 Lisa Warth
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Collections > LSE History of Thought theses
Supervisor: Lewis, Jane

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