CURA-WAROL > Research Partnership Projects > Work-Family Balance (WFB)

Work-Family Balance (WFB)

Within this Research Partnership Project (RPP), the CURA-WAROL focuses on existing work-family articulation measures and provisions (namely working time and work schedules). The WFB RPP is also intent on investigating measures and provisions being implemented or that could undergo experimentation (for example time-credit schemes as in Belgium).

Context of and issues within the WFB RPP

Different working times and work-family balance (WFB) practices have been implemented either in the framework of business management strategies or within public policies, for example through WFB measures that draw on working time and social times arrangements (parental time, leisure time, etc.). Such practices are not widespread or systemic; it is therefore important not only to identify them but also to survey the perception of workers, businesses and social actors on these matters. Such perceptions largely determine attitudinal change, practices, as well as public policies.

Scientific findings on work-life articulation issues are very high on the agenda. Studies have shown how a reduction of activity in the labour market inflicts constraints on both the social security and the labour market systems. For example, a number of studies encourage public authorities to support female labour force participation (e.g., through work-life articulation measures and appropriate childcare services) in order to maintain a high percentage of working population. Other studies have further highlighted the problems entailed in work-family balance, and the continual work-life stress facing working parents. Both the government of Québec and the Canadian government have a keen interest in the issue, but so does Europe and a number of other countries. In addition, this question critical for the future of the labour market as well as for the management of equal opportunities for men and women, and for the diversity of the respective gendered situations involved. Finally, States and employers need to address the organisation of working schedules and of working times if they are to ensure that working parents remain active on the job market if they wish.

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Ongoing research projects

1 - Literature review on work-family articulation over the lifecourse (working time arrangements) in Québec, British Columbia and New Brunswick, as well as in European countries: Belgium, France, Finland and Sweden.

2- Statistical analysis:
- 2.1. Analysis of Statistics Canada’s Workplace and Employee Survey (WES) data to identify employers’ management strategies toward workers according to age (work organization, working schedules and working times), as well as workers’ expectations according to age, gender, unionization, and industry. The work is performed by professors Elmustapha Najem (UQO) and Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay (TELUQ).
- 2.2. Statistical analysis of data from the General Social Survey on work-family balance (GSS), from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), and the data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID). The work is performed by professors Elmustapha Najem (UQO) and Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay (TELUQ) in collaboration with Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ).

3- Research on work-life balance in social economy enterprises, including childcare centres (in partnership with Association québécoise des Centres à la petite enfance — AQCPE).

4- Research on “Dialogue pour une politique familiale”. The research project is headed by professor Pier Bouchard (UNB-Moncton), in partnership with Association des parents francophones du Nouveau-Brunswick (APFNB).

5- A case study on services to support families, a collaboration between TÉLUQ and Commodus.

6- Research on professional/organisational mediation in work-life articulation in Québec and Belgium. Interviews are conducted in three professional environments: nurses, social workers and police. The research is managed by professors Bernard Fusulier (Université de Louvain-la-Neuve) and Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay (TELUQ), and doctoral candidates Émilie Sanchez and David Laloy (Université de Louvain-la-Neuve); study conducted in partnership with Belgian unions and CSN (Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux) in Québec.

7- Pursuit of the Québec-France research on the role of intermediate actors in work-family balance. The research is conducted by professors Marie-Agnès Barrère-Maurisson and Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay along with partners in Québec and in France. A book was published in 2009.

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Upcoming research projects

- Case studies of enterprises identified as exemplary or innovative organisations in terms of professional and personal- family-life balance.
- Research proposal to investigate the dissemination/outreach of the standard on work-family balance in Québec: comparison with the parental charter in France; what are the bottom line results of such an incentive, status assessment, etc.
- Methods and conditions for implementing parental leave in organizations. - What are the expectations and new demands of men and women pertaining to work-family articulation?
- What is the position of social actors and community groups that represent different categories of stakeholders (employers and managers, unions, parents, families, etc.) in the regions under study? Québec, New Brunswick and British Columbia were selected because of observed similarities with respect to working time and leisure expectations, and because of institutional differences, i.e., unionization and public policies. As well, New Brunswick was selected because there is an ongoing “dialogue forum” underway between social actors on the issues of family policies and work-family balance under the auspices of APFNB (Association des parents francophones du Nouveau-Brunswick).

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Theoretical approach specific to the WFB RPP (Work-family balance Research Partnership Project)
Family concerns and work-family balance issues add a unique and significant dimension to women’s lifecourse and to men’s as well, who are increasingly aware of the issue and want to participate in family life. The theoretical framework of the WFB RPP draws on theories pertaining to the management of social times, domestic work and labour market segmentation, career management and human resources management, work-family balance, parenting and parental roles, as well as employment issues.

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