The importance of policies for reconciling workplace and family responsibilities


Policies aimed at reconciling workplace and family responsibilities need to be comprehensive in scope, meaning they should speak to integral characteristics of needs in that regard. Accordingly, implementing a comprehensive approach that focuses on social co-responsibility is essential, so as to establish the areas of government, market, and family action, whereas the State would have a more proactive role in establishing the necessary facilities to ensure that men and women can perform productive work knowing that their families are being cared for in accordance with acceptable quality standards without workers having to bear an excessive financial burden for such care, and without exhausting one or both workers with the corresponding health impacts.

These policies should be aimed at both men and women. If such polices continue to be directed exclusively at women, it implies that the responsibility for solving the problem lies with women, and that if falls to women alone to tend to household chores and care for the members of their households. Consequently, these policies should be based on the fact that both working men and women need help reconciling the responsibilities of workplace and family life.

Moreover, policies aimed at reconciling the responsibilities of work and family life should also be extended to include the informal sector of the economy. It is well known that women working in the informal economy do not have maternity coverage or any other benefits to help them reconcile their work and family responsibilities, such as leave from work or childcare.

One work-life reconciliation strategy many countries have employed is flexible schedules in the workplace, allowing people to work on either a part-time or temporary basis. These initiatives have served as an incentive for women to enter the labor market or return after leaving a job. Undoubtedly, this type of labor market insertion alternative is an important tool for preventing women from losing contact with the market.

Proposals for reconciling between workplace and family responsibilities are geared toward:

  1. Promoting ratification and implementation of ILO Convention 156 on workers with family responsibilities.
    b) Promoting regulations to facilitate a balance between workplace and family responsibilities for working women and men, as well as establishing or increasing family parental leave, as well as other modalities for the care of children and dependent persons.
  2. Promoting and regulating policies that make it possible for both men and women to have flexible work schedules.
  3. Promoting the development and strengthening of universal care policies and services, based on the idea shared responsibility for the provision of such services between the State, the private sector, civil society, and households.
  4. Carrying out studies that measure the impact of work-life balance mechanisms implemented by companies and the productivity associated with the same.
  5. Promoting time-use surveys in order to measure unpaid work performed by women and men, and thereby show the overall work burden by sex, with a view to developing work-life balance policies.

Failure in reconciling work and family responsibilities results in important economic and human costs. A weakness or absence of policies aimed at reconciling a balance between family and work life impacts in at least two dimensions. The first is expressed at the macro level, and is the impact of under-utilizing the female workforce, as a direct consequence of difficulties in reconciling workplace and care-giving responsibilities in the home. The second is expressed at the micro level, in the form of decreased performance and the resulting lower degree of productivity, owing to the stress suffered by working men and women as they attempt to reconcile the demands of work and family life.

Extracted from ” Advancing Gender Equality in the context of Decent Work” available here




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