Reconciling work and family life

Promoting female employment is good for growth and robust families. It is also in line with women's aspirations and increased educational attainment. High female employment does not hamper fertility. On the contrary, they go together, given policy supports that improve the compatibility of gainful employment and family care responsibilities. For this, labour markets have be organized around the principle of gender equality. Social policies must encourage the formation and meet the needs of 'dual-carer' families, in which both partners share work and family responsibilities. There is a clear relation between the ratio of part-time jobs and female employment growth. Flexible working conditions are often part and parcel of family-friendly employment policy provisions. But the ability of part-time employment to harmonize careers with family life also depends very much on employment regulation, on whether part-time work is recognized as a regular job with basic social insurance participation, and on whether it offers prospects of career mobility, thus serving the achievement of higher rates of women's labourforce participation. With more improved work-life reconciliation policies for younger two-job couples with children, employment relations based on principles of dignity at work, the fostering of new combinations of security and flexibility that allow workers from all age-cohorts to make the best of their abilities and talents, recalibrated employment relations are part and parcel of the new social investment imperative. Maternity leave programmes and employment opportunities should be complemented by appropriate qualification programmes that can begin during the first phase of leave. Many of the 'new social risks', such as family formation, divorce, old-age care dependency, declining fertility rates, and accelerating population ageing, bear primarily on young people and young families, signifying a shift in social risks from the elderly to the young.

 
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