Gender and Working Time in Industrialised Countries

Colette Fagan Sociology, School of Social Sciences Roscoe Building University of Manchester Manchester M13 9PL, UK tel: 44-161-275-2512 Gender and Working Time in Industrialised Countries Prepared for the Working Time and Work Organisation Team (WTWO) at the International Institute for Labour Studies, ILO Colette Fagan Published in: Messenger, J. (eds.) (2004) Working Time and Workers’ preferences in Industrialized Countries: Finding the balance, Routldeg, Institute for Labour Studies of the International Labour Organisation series

Introduction Working-time arrangements in industrialised countries are changing along a number of dimensions. Some of these changes have been emerging for a number of decades, such as the expansion of part-time work, while others are more recent developments, such as the lengthening of the working week in some parts of the economy (see Bosch 1999, Evans et al. 2001 and Lee, this volume). The main forces driving these changes are enterprises' requirements for more flexible modes of work organisation to enhance their efficiency in the context of economic restructuring and globalization. However, there is another, subsidiary pressure in play from the labour supply.

Some workers are seeking out part-time or even 'unsocial' schedules such as night or weekend work in order to combine employment with other time-consuming activities - such as women raising children, or young people participating in education. In contrast, some other groups of workers take jobs where very long hours or 'overworking' are the norm, perhaps in exchange for higher earnings.

The gender implications associated with these working time developments are twofold. Firstly, the restructuring of working-time practices has occurred in parallel with a growing involvement of women in employment when they are raising children. Among couples the traditional 'male breadwinner' arrangement that was common in many industrialised countries is being eroded by the rise of 'dual-earner' households, and in addition a growing proportion of women are raising children in lone-parent households. The established gender division of labour in society is that women do most of the domestic work and put more time into care work than men, and this gender arrangement tends to channel women into working-time arrangements that fit with their domestic commitments.

The most notable example is part-time work, but in some countries it is also common for certain groups of mothers with young children to opt for evening and weekend schedules. In contrast, few men reduce their working hours to take on care responsibilities (Fagan 2001a).

The second, related issue is that gender segregation is a persistent feature of the labour market despite the growing presence of women in the workforce (Anker 1998, Fagan and Burchell 2002, Rubery et al. 1999). This segregation is associated with different working-time schedules, such that women undertake most of the part-time work while 'overworking' is mostly found in the male-dominated job areas. Most of the part-time jobs are concentrated in the lower paid and lower status service jobs, and the opportunities to work part-time in many managerial and professional areas are limited (O'Reilly and Fagan 1998).

Conversely, many of these higher status white-collar jobs are currently organised in ways that are generally incompatible with the time demands of family life due to the long hours or type of flexible hours required. Thus, the 1

working-time schedules associated with different jobs can operate to reinforce gender segregation. Very long hours or 'overworking' is one of the barriers to women's entry to some male-dominated job areas and reinforces men's lack of time involvement in their parental roles. In other parts of the economy the working-time policies adopted by enterprises may mean that the only jobs open to women are part-time, particularly those with few labour market alternatives. For example, in the UK, part-time jobs with very short 'marginal' hours predominate in many female-dominated manual service jobs, such as cleaning or retail.

So in this country the opportunities for women to obtain full-time work may be limited unless they have sufficient qualifications to enter higher occupational levels or are willing and able to enter male-dominated manual jobs. Thus large proportions of women may be under-employed in parttime jobs because of a lack of full-time alternatives.

The diversification of working-time practices - and perhaps workers' working-time preferences - in conjunction with the general trends of collective bargaining decentralisation and declining coverage are creating new challenges for how working-time standards are defined and established. Historically, state intervention and collective bargaining in relation to working time has centred upon full-time, daytime and weekday work schedules as the reference point of 'standard hours' (Bosch et al. 1994, Bosch 1999). Shorter full-time hours and compensation for 'unsocial' hours (evenings, nights, week-ends and rotating shifts) have been the focus for regulations, followed in more recent decades by measures to guarantee equal treatment for parttimers.

Similarly, this 'full-time standard' has also been the reference point for the development of national social protection systems, and it is only recently that the importance of protecting periods of part-time work have begun to be accommodated in welfare state policies. The aim in this chapter is to analyse the gender differentials in working-time arrangements and to assess the policy implications, with a particular focus on the issue of 'work-family' reconciliation or co-ordination. In section 2 the current pattern of working-time arrangements are compared by gender and occupational position along the dimensions of the volume, schedule and autonomy.

Some national comparisons are also drawn. Working-time preferences and the 'work-family' compatibility of work schedules are considered in section 3. Section 4 discusses the policy implications, and conclusions are drawn in section 5. 2. Gender and the component elements of working-time The established gender division of labour in society, including gender segregation within employment, produces gender differentiated working-time arrangements. To evaluate the extent and form of gender differences in working-time it is helpful to distinguish between the different dimensions of working-time, particularly the volume, schedule, and type of variability (Fagan 2001b).

The notion of 'working-time flexibility' must also be clarified. Employers' interests in 2

working-time flexibility for operational requirements are usually quite distinct from employees' interests in obtaining more flexibility in the organisation of their working time so as to make it more compatible with other parts of their lives. Employees may want working-time arrangements that accommodate a variety of activities - as well as rest and leisure time - including care responsibilities (children, elders, the domestic work of running a home), education or other time-consuming undertakings (political and civic commitments, small-scale self-employment, sporting or creative pursuits).

Given this diversity in circumstances it is plausible that one working-time arrangement may suit some people but not others. For example, some mothers of young children in the UK opt for evening or weekend work to fit in with their domestic arrangements if their partner or other family members are available to look after children during these periods; while others may find it difficult or impossible to organise childcare in order to go to work during these periods.

Purcell et al. (1999) make a pertinent distinction between 'unstructured' and 'structured' flexibility, to which we can add the concept of 'autonomous flexibility'. 'Unstructured flexibility' occurs when employees have little control over the schedule and often the volume of hours that they work. This may result from explicit contractual arrangements with their employer, in annualised or zero-hour contracts for example, or in more informal workplace expectations such as overtime as and when necessary, or the 'long hours cultures' of many professional and managerial occupations. 'Structured flexibility' is found in working-time arrangements that are predictable but 'non-standard', such as regular part-time schedules or rotating shifts.

Such arrangements offer employees more control than 'unstructured flexibility' in the sense of predictable, regular and delineated patterns of work. Structured 'non standard' schedules also offer labour market alternatives for people who are unable or unwilling to work 'standard' hours. The concept of 'autonomous flexibility' identifies those forms of working-time flexibility that are geared to employees' needs rather than organisational requirements in the sense that these arrangements give employees some ability to vary or alter their working-time in order to accommodate other activities.

Examples include formal flexitime or 'time banking' systems; contractual rights to switch between full-time and part-time hours; and extended leave entitlements such as parental leave.1 2.1 The volume of weekly working hours The gender gap in employment rates has fallen in recent years, however, men still commit more time to paid work than do women, whether measured over the day, week, year or lifetime. Conversely, gender inequality in the division of unpaid labour persists, for women commit more time to childcare and unpaid domestic work. There is a slow process of 'lagged adaptation' 3

underway, whereby men's relative contribution to childcare and domestic work has increased across recent generations in response to women's rising time commitment to employment (Gershuny et al. 1994, Gershuny 2000). To date, this adaptation of the gender division of labour is still very limited. For example, in couple households with a child aged less than five years old and where both adults are employed full-time, on average mothers spend just over twice as much time on childcare and other domestic work as fathers (OECD 2001)2 . However, multivariate analysis shows that men's relative contribution increases according to the number of hours the women devotes to employment in some European countries, which suggests that a reduction in the gender working hours gap would facilitate a more gender equal domestic division of labour (Anxo et al.


Table 1 and Figure 1 illustrates this gender difference in employment with a comparison of the volume of usual weekly hours worked by employed men and women in selected industrialised countries. Usual weekly working hours are important to consider given the regular timedemands of domestic life and hence 'work-family' reconciliation debates (for an international comparison of annual working hours see Evans et al. 2001 and Lee, chapter 2 this volume).3 The dispersal of working hours is also relevant, for a polarization of working hours seems through an expansion of very short and very long work weeks seems to be emerging in some countries, such as Australia, the US and Canada (Australian Bureau of Statistics 1999, Golden and Figart 2000, Wong and Picot 2001).

Table 1 near here Figure 1 near here In every country the profile for men is dominated by full-time hours. In contrast, employed women are more likely to work part-time or shorter full-time hours, and tend to have a more dispersed range of working hours than do men. The analysis also demonstrates national differences in the volume of weekly working hours, most notably in the rates of part-time work for women and, particularly among men, the proportion with very long full-time working hours. A substantial number of studies have shown that international differences in working hours are also found where more precise comparisons are made according to type of sector or occupation (e.g..

Anxo and O'Reilly 2000, Bosch et al. 1994 and 1997, Bosch and Lehndorff forthcoming, 1 Some arrangements for employees to do some or all of their work from home may also be included under 'autonomous flexibility' in the sense that working from home can offer temporal as well as spatial flexibility. 2 The inequality in the gender division of domestic labour is more pronounced when viewed from a societal rather than a two-adult household perspective because a growing proportion of child raising is located in female-headed lone parent households, and men's contribution to the unpaid work in these households is minimal.

Boulin and Hoffman 1999, Golden and Figart 2000, Rubery et al. 1998 and 1999). This body of research has demonstrated that these national differences result from different institutional arrangements that impact on how working-time is organised (see also Lee, chapter 2 this volume). A key factor is the different statutory regulations and collective agreements on working-time. The structure of employers' non-wage labour costs also has a bearing. For example, hours or earnings thresholds in the structure of employers' social security contributions can encourage employers to create 'short hour' part-time jobs to reduce these costs, while per capita rather than hourly-related costs create fixed costs that can deter the use of part-time contracts.

Other institutional differences also play a role through their influence on labour supply, including wage levels and differentials, the structure of personal taxation, incentives or barriers to part-time work in the unemployment support system, and the availability and opening hours of childcare; the latter of which mainly impacts on maternal labour supply. These institutional frameworks influence the decisions and negotiations of employers and the workforce at the organizational level, where additional more specific sector and regional conditions affect the particular working-time policies and innovations that develop.

Long working hours remain prevalent, particularly for men, in many countries. This is despite the substantial reductions that were achieved over the last century, largely driven by collective negotiations and legislation. In some countries this downward trend continues, for example in France where the 35-hour week has been introduced by legislation. Substantial reductions have also been achieved in some other countries, including Denmark, Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands and Japan since the 1980s (see Lee, chapter 2 this volume). However, the incidence of long hours of work among full-timers has risen in some countries, most notably in the UK, the US and Australia (Bosch 1999, Evans et al.

2001, Lee this volume). A 48-hour upper-limit to weekly hours has been established in the European Union's Working-Time Directive, and regulations in most member states establish a more stringent limit on weekly hours (see McCann, chapter 1 this volume). If we use this 48-hour threshold as one possible indicator of 'overworking'4 then Figure 1 shows that the incidence of very long weekly hours tends to be higher in the non-EU countries shown (Japan, the US, Australia, New Zealand) compared to the overall figure for the EU member states. However, within the EU there are still around one in five employed men work hours at or in excess of this 48-hour limit, as are 9% of employed women, with the incidence of long working hours particularly prevalent for men in Ireland, Greece and the UK and for women in Greece, Spain and Portugal.

(see Lee, chapter 2 this volume for additional discussion of excessive hours of work). Men's working hours are shortest 3 A gender breakdown of annual working hours is available from Table 6b of the ILO's volume (2002) Key Indicators of the Labour Market.

4 This 48-hour threshold has been adopted from the Working-Time Directive for illustrative purposes only, and it might be appropriate to define 'overworking' using a lower threshold. Certainly this threshold was a matter of debate 5

in France, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands (averages are between 37-40 per week). More than 60% of employed men have usual weekly hours in the 35-39 hour range in France, as do around half of the employed men in Denmark and Belgium5 . In France there has been a shift towards the lower end of the 35-39 hour category in line with the statutory reduction of the working week from 39 to 35 hours.

Long working hours are less prevalent for women, but again there are national differences in average working hours, associated with the different rates of part-time work and 'overworking'.

Part-time employment has increased in recent decades in most industrialised countries, stabilising or declining only in some countries where comparatively high rates have been reached (O'Reilly and Fagan 1998). Part-time hours can be defined using various thresholds6 , although it should be noted that in a few countries, such as Japan, the concept of part-time work is not tied to the volume of work undertaken but to the lower status of the worker within the firm (Houseman and Osawa 1998). In relation to working hours it is useful to distinguish between those jobs with 'marginal' or 'short' part-time hours (defined here as less than 20 hours per week) and those with longer or 'substantial' part-time hours (defined here as 20-34 hours per week), with some of the latter category working only a few hours less than some full-timers.

This distinction is important for measuring the volume of hours worked, it is also important in some labour law or social protection systems where a specific hour threshold is used to define 'marginal' part-timers with fewer entitlements, for example in Germany (European Commission 1999). As Lee argues in chapter 2 of this volume, there is also some evidence that in some countries short part-time hours are also marginal on the dimension of a poorer job quality relative to that of substantial part-time arrangements.

Most part-timers are women. The rate of part-time work for women varies markedly between countries, for example a full-time working week of 35 hours or more is much more common for employed women in the US, Finland, Portugal and Spain than in the other countries shown. Taking 'short' and 'substantial' part-time hours together, The Netherlands has the highest rate of female part-time work by a long distance, followed by the UK, Australia, Sweden, and Denmark.7 Both short part-time (less than 20) and more substantial part-time hours are common in the Netherlands, the UK and Australia. The incidence of short part-time hours is rising rapidly in some other countries, notably Germany, Japan, Australia and Ireland (Lee, table 2, chapter 2 this volume).

Elsewhere women's part-time work tends to be organised around longer among governments, trade unions and employers' associations in the European negotiations on the Working-Time Directive.

5 A similar pattern is found in Norway (see Fagan 2001a). 6 The hour threshold used in official statistics, labour law and collective agreements vary between countries and sometimes within countries. A 30-hour threshold encompasses most forms of part-time work in many countries, while a 35-hour threshold prevails in some others, such as Sweden and the US. 7 Part-time work is also common for women in a number of other industrialised countries not shown here, including Norway and New Zealand. 6

weekly working hours (20-34). Some women with weekly working hours in the 20-34 hour range have full-time rather than part-time contracts, for example many of the women working these hours in Greece and Italy are full-time public sector workers working less than 35 hours a week.

Rates of part-time work have risen for men in recent years but it is still rare in most countries and is usually concentrated on students and those approaching retirement (Delsen 1998). Again, The Netherlands leads the way, where one fifth of employed men now work less than 35 hours a week, and where part-time work for men has spread into the core working years. Hence a large part of the explanation for the gender differential in the volume of weekly hours is the greater propensity of women to work part-time. Many select part-time work because they have care responsibilities. For example, around two thirds of women and one third of men working part-time in the European Union report that they do not want full-time jobs (European Commission 2000, table 38).

Most of the women in the EU who have selected part-time work have done so because they have children or other domestic commitments, as have one third of the minority of men who have selected part-time work (Fagan 2001a, table 39). The rate of parttime work in the USA is lower than that found in many European countries, but again women are more likely to work part-time than men, and here around one in five part-timers have selected this working arrangement due to childcare problems or family obligations8 . The decision to take part-time work for family reasons is influenced by the range of alternative work-family reconciliation measures available.

For some it is the preferred option selected from a range of alternative forms of childcare or working arrangements, for other it is tightly constrained decision or 'notional choice', particularly if they live in places where childcare services are limited, expensive or socially unacceptable.

Other reasons for working part-time should not be overlooked. In particular 'involuntary' parttime work – where full-time hours are preferred but unavailable – vary markedly for both sexes between countries, ranging from less than 10% of part-timers in the USA, the UK, the Netherlands and Norway to at least one in five in Sweden, France, Spain, Greece and Portugal (see Lee, figure 6 chapter 2 this volume). The majority of involuntary part-time workers are women, although in some countries the rate of involuntary part-time work is higher among the small proportion of men employed part-time.

The proportion of part-timers who are students also varies markedly between countries, with particularly large proportions of the part-time workforce being students in Denmark (35%), Finland (28%) the US and Ireland (19% in each). In each country men working part-time are much more likely to be students than are women in part-time jobs.

Another reason for the gender differential in the volume of working hours is gender segregation, whereby the working-time requirements often vary between 'male-dominated' and 'female- 7

dominated' areas of employment. These working-time differences between jobs are due to operational requirements plus labour supply considerations, and they play a role in perpetuating gender segregation in employment. For example, part-time work has often been created explicitly to recruit or retain women (Beechey and Perkins 1987, Horrell and Rubery 1991), while the requirement to work long hours in particular jobs such as management help to preserve this area of employment as a largely male enclave (Wajcman 1998).

More men than women are also self-employed - although the female share is increasing in a number of countries, particularly in the US - and self-employed men typically work longer hours than employees, particularly the self-employed with their own employees (Fagan and Burchell, 2002).

Job differences in usual weekly hours of work are illustrated in table 2, using occupational data from a recent survey of the EU member states9 . Men in management and in skilled agricultural and fishery jobs work the longest hours, while the shortest average hours for men are in clerical work and elementary occupations. The incidence of very long hours is also high for professionals and service and shop workers, where about one quarter of employed men usually work 48 or more hours per week, but these occupations also include a relatively high proportion of men working part-time. Overall, men are most likely to work less than 35 hours a week if they are in professional, service and shop work, elementary, or skilled agricultural work.

Compared to men, women work shorter hours within each occupational group, but there are marked differences between women according to their occupational position. Women work particularly long hours if they are in the male-dominated area of managerial work or agricultural work. Marginal part-time hours are most prevalent among women employed in elementary, service and shop work. The female-dominated occupation of clerical work offers the least exposure to either short part-time or long hours of work for both sexes. Table 2 near here As we shall see later in this chapter, working-time preference data shows that both 'overworking' and 'short' part-time work are unpopular among the workforce.

8 Derived from Current Population Statistics for 2001 (Household data, table 20), US Bureau of Labor Statistics (

9 The European Foundation for Living and Working Conditions 'The European Working Conditions Survey – 2000' is a representative survey of the 15 EU member states. The sample size was approximately 1500 in each country; the data reported here for the EU-15 have been adjusted for country size. See (Merllié and Paoli 2001) for further information including a discussion of the sample design and weighting. I have compared the volume of working hours recorded for each country in the European Working Conditions Survey with the results obtained in the larger sample of the European Labour Force Survey (European Commission 2000), and the results for both surveys are very similar.

2.2 The schedule of hours Working-time schedules have become more diverse in industrialised countries in recent decades, associated with changing work practices including the spread of the '24/7 economy'. The proportion of the workforce with schedules that include evening, night or weekend work, or variable hours has increased in most industrialised countries, albeit slowly in Australia and some European countries over the 1990s (Australian Bureau of Statistics 1999, Evans et al. 2001). Similarly, in the US there has been little change in the incidence of many types of schedules over the last decade (US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2002), but in the last thirty years pronounced changes have occurred, particularly with a decline in the five-day week and an expansion in seven-day working (Figart and Golden 2000).

The type of schedules worked is illustrated with data for the EU and USA in tables 3 and 4. Around one third of the European workforce have what can be defined as the traditional 'standard' schedule of daytime, weekday work without long daily hours (defined as people who said they never worked 10 hours or more per day). Another 8% work daytime, weekdays but with some or regular long days (including 2% who worked at least 6 long days a month). Weekend work, long days and shifts are prevalent. Over one third have daytime schedules that include some or regular weekend work: 17% with long days and 19% without long days.

Eighteen per cent work either rotating shift schedules or permanent nights. A small minority of 6% work some 'twilight' evenings and nights without working either 'long days' or rotating shift schedules.

There are some gender differences in work schedules in the EU. A larger proportion of women's employment is organised into daytime work – including weekends – with no long days. Schedules with long days or some weekend work are more common for men. However, there is no gender difference in the incidence of regular weekend work (21% of each sex), rotating shifts (18%), or scheduled evening/night hours (6%). The higher rate of part-time work among women accounts for most of the gender difference in work schedules. Part-timers rarely work long days of 10 hours or more, but they are roughly twice as likely as full-timers to work 'twilight' evening and night slots, and only slightly less likely to work week-ends or rotating shifts.

Part-timers are disproportionately involved in these non-standard schedules relative to full-timers in some European countries, indicating the influence of national working-time regimes on how parttimers are used to cover different working hours (Rubery et al. 1998). Table 3 near here There are also clear job-related differences in work schedules. The 'standard' working day (daytime, weekday, no long days) is most common for clerical workers, covering 45% of men 9

and 60% of women employed in this occupation. Weekend work without long days feature most for men employed in service and sales work (26%), agriculture (22%) and elementary occupations (22%); for women it is particularly prevalent in service and sales work (37%) and the incidence for women exceeds that of men for each occupational group except clerical work where there is no gender difference. Daytime work that includes weekends and long days is particularly found among managers and skilled agricultural workers of both sexes and male professionals. The incidence of rotating shifts or permanent nights for men is highest for operatives (40% of men and 36% of women), service and sales work (27% of men and 24% of women), men in elementary occupations (25%) and women who are associate professionals (26%), many of whom are nurses and other health professions.

The data for work schedules in the US (table 4) are not directly comparable with that for the EU because they only relate to full-time workers (35 hours or more per week) and different definitions of schedules were used in the survey, in particular no distinction is made between daytime work on weekdays versus week-ends (see the table notes). But there are parallels with the picture for the EU. First, there is little gender difference between full-timers in the incidence of schedules that fall outside of 'regular daytime' hours (defined as anytime between 6am and 6pm any days during the week).

It is also of note that mothers of young children employed fulltime in the US undertake a similar range of work schedules to those of men and other women employed full-time. Second, the job-related differences are pronounced, with the lowest incidence of 'regular daytime' schedules found among full-time workers in service, operating and transport jobs. Other data from the same survey enhance the picture of daily schedules worked by the US workforce. While 85% state they have a 'regular daytime' schedule, in practice work schedules encroach into the early morning or the end of the day for many.

In total 30% of full-timers are at work by 730am, 19% do not usually finish work until after 6pm and 15% can not specify a 'usual' finishing time because their work hours are so variable (US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2001, derived from table 7). A similar pattern of encroaching work hours is found in Australia, where one third of the workforce have work patterns that fall outside daytime hours (6am-6pm) (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1999). Table 4 near here The precise shape of these gender and job-related differences in work schedules vary between countries, for example in the extent and type of part-time work schedules, long hours working or shift patterns.

The key points here are, firstly, that in every country while men undertake most of the long working hours and women work shorter hours, both sexes are involved in a diverse range of work schedules encompassing week-end, evening, night and shift work. 10

Secondly, that these work schedules are more prevalent in some occupational groups than in others. Where there is some diversity in the range of work schedules available within similar types of employment – for example where nurses can choose between different shift patterns, or where secretaries can find either part-time or full-time jobs in the labour market – then there are more options open to the workforce. This can help to increase the labour market integration of groups with other demands on their time, such as mothers with young children. However, sector and company studies show that a diverse range of work schedules provides only a limited form of integration unless accompanied by other measures.

For example, Perrons' (1999) comparative study of retail in Europe showed that part-timers had fewer promotion prospects than those working standard full-time schedules and that where schedules were subject to unpredictable changes instigated by the employer than this undermined any 'compatibility' the schedules had for domestic responsibilities.

2.3 Working-time autonomy and variability Public debate is increasing about the need for more extensive 'work-family' reconciliation policies to alleviate the difficulties that many employees face when managing the demands of their jobs with the time-demands of family responsibilities. This reconciliation is likely to be facilitated for those workers who have some influence or control over when they work, or, as we discussed above, what can be termed 'autonomous flexibility'. A number of aspects of workingtime contribute to enhancing workers' autonomous flexibility, including the degree of influence they have over when they take their annual leave, entitlements to other forms of leave (maternity, parental, etc.) or working-time adjustments, such as the right to work part-time for a specified period.

Here the focus is upon the particular issue of whether workers are able to influence their start and finishing times.

Formal flexitime systems are an important mechanism under which workers are able to vary their start and finish times within agreed time zones around a 'core working hours' period in which they must be present. A target number of working hours must be achieved with a predetermined period, but workers are allowed to carry deficits or bank surpluses within certain ranges. Surplus hours can be used to take full or half days off as 'time off in lieu', although this is usually conditional on the agreement of supervisors.10 These systems were first introduced in the 1960s and 1970s and are most widespread among white-collar workers, particularly clerical and administrative occupations (Bosch 1997).

Time banking' schemes extend the flexitime principle to permit hours to vary to a greater degree over a longer settlement period, and while 10 For example, the core period might be 10-1600 hours with a two-hour zone either side in which workers are free to decide when to start and finish. The permitted surplus or deficit might be 20 hours over a four-week period, and surplus hours can be 'cashed in' for additional half or full days off with the agreement of the supervisor. 11

many are geared largely to employers' needs as part of annualised hours contracts, some time banking schemes increase autonomous flexibility for employees. In recent years a number of such schemes have been negotiated in Europe, particularly in Germany, Italy and Sweden, in a variety of sectors including metalwork, chemicals and banking (EIROnline 2001). Where flexitime is absent informal flexible hours arrangements may operate between supervisors and some workers, for example to retain key workers by accommodating specific family-related demands. Flexible hours are also a feature of some managerial, professional and craft occupations, where the incumbents largely self-determine their own start and finish hours in order to complete their workloads.

Both flexitime and informal flexible arrangements are easiest to implement in jobs where many of the tasks can be completed independently of the working patterns of other colleagues and where only a small part of the working-time involves being available for direct contact with customers or other external service users. Finally, the other side of the coin is whether workers have variable start and finish times that are largely controlled by their employers' requirements for them to work overtime or variable schedules. Statistical indicators of flexible working schedules for both the EU countries and the USA indicate that the differentiation is more pronounced by occupational status, rather than gender per se (tables 5 and 6).

In the EU, 23% of the workforce has some type of formal or informal arrangement for flexible working hours in which they are able to vary their start and finish times (table 5). Another one in five (21%) state that they work fixed hours and have some control over this arrangement. The remaining two thirds have their hours set by their employers, including 11% who work variable hours arrangements. Men are slightly more likely to vary their own start and finish hours, while women are slightly more likely to work fixed hours set by their employer. The data for the US are collected using a different question format and so are not directly comparable, but here 30% of men and 27% of women employed full-time have some form of flexible schedule, which includes 11% of the full-time workforce with a formal flexitime programme (table 6).

This follows a marked expansion in the incidence of flexible schedules in the US over the 1990s (Golden 2000). Perhaps surprisingly, in the EU there are only negligible differences between women full-timers and part-timers in patterns of flexible schedules at this aggregate level of analysis. However, for the US Golden (2000) has shown that those who usually work very long full-time hours (50 or more) or part-time hours have more ability to vary or change their start and finish times than workers with standard full-time hours. He concludes that US workers can only obtain flexible hours if they opt-out of standard fulltime hours.

Tables 5 and 6 near here 12

Turning to occupational differences, in the EU, managerial and skilled agricultural workers are the most likely to work variable hours that they set themselves (Both of these occupations encompass the majority of the self-employed, but this pattern also holds for employees). Conversely, those employed in craft, operative or elementary jobs are the most likely to be working hours that are set by their employers, whether on a fixed or variable basis. The data for the USA is not directly comparable, but again occupational differences are pronounced, with flexible schedules being most prevalent among full-timers in managerial and professional grades, sales and personal services.

Both the European and the US data show that once occupational position is taken into account, the main gender differences is that among professionals and technical grades - as well as in sales in the United States - women have lower rates of flexible schedules. This gender difference among professionals is probably associated with segregated employment positions, whereby more women professionals are in the lower grades and in health, education and other 'person contact' work in which hours are more tightly scheduled to meet service requirements, than other professional areas such as IT or engineering.

A recent review by the OECD (2001) concludes that there is less national variation in the incidence of flexitime than in a number of other 'family-friendly' working-time arrangements in firms. In general, the highest levels of flexitime are found in Australia11 and the US, exceeding those found in most EU countries, while in comparison Japan ranks among the lowest. Furthermore, Bosch (1997) argues that the flexitime arrangements that exist in Japan are scarcely used because they run counter to establish organisational work cultures in which absence and lateness are severely penalised (see Takagi 1993); in contrast the flexitime systems that exist in Europe, North America and Australia are generally widely used and popular with the workforce.

For example, the US may have one of the highest coverage rates for flexitime systems, but Golden (2000) argues that surveys regularly show that many more of the workforce would like this arrangement.

3. Working-time preferences and work-family compatibility In this section we consider men and women's evaluations of their current working-time arrangements using data on their working-time preferences and their assessments of the 'workfamily' compatibility of their work schedules. This type of information provides an indication of how people feel about their current working-time arrangements, and provides some insight into the kind of policy developments that they would like. Of course, such evaluations do not provide accurate predictions of how people would behave in some future situation, for competing priorities, constraints and other considerations will also influence labour supply 11 In 2000, 38% of all employees reported that they were able to work extra hours to take time off, an increase from 34% in 1993 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2002).

decisions. In particular, when real wages are falling, or employment is becoming more insecure people may be less willing to reduce their working hours than in more positive economic conditions. A recent survey of the EU-15 and Norway revealed that nearly two in three employed persons would prefer to work a different amount of hours to their present arrangement12 . Half (51%) would prefer to reduce their hours, whether traded for lower current earnings or against future pay rises13 . Another 12% would like to work longer hours. The available time series suggest that the proportion of the European workforce that would like working-time reductions has increased since the mid-1980s, even in those countries where reductions have been achieved (Lehndorff 2000).

Estimates made by Jacobs and Gerson (2000) suggest a broadly similar picture for the US, although a slightly higher proportion of the US workforce wants to increase their hours. They calculate that nearly half of Americans would prefer shorter working hours, 90% of which want to work at least 5 hours fewer a week, while 17% would prefer to work longer hours. Bell and Freeman (1995) also found that more Americans than Europeans wanted to work longer hours. They argue that the very dispersed income distribution in the US provides the financial pressure that drives Americans to work long hours.

This is echoed by Bluestone and Rose's (2000) conclusion that falling real wages in the US means that many families are 'running harder' to maintain their standard of living.

In contrast, the available data suggest that a smaller proportion of the Australian and Japanese workforces would prefer to adjust their hours although such comparisons must be treated cautiously since measures of preferences are sensitive to differences in questionnaire design. In Australia, a government survey in 2000 indicated that 7% of all employees would prefer to work fewer hours and 21% would prefer more hours (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2002). However, according to a national survey by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), 79% of employees want a limit set on weekly working hours, in the context that many of them are experiencing increasing workloads and a negative impact of working hours on their family life (ACTU, 2003).

In Japan 25% of employed men and 20% of employed women would like to reduce their hours of work (including stopping work), while only 7% of employed men and 8% of employed women would like to work longer hours (including taking on another job).14 In Japan, as in the US, financial pressures to meet housing costs and maintain purchasing power 12 The 1998 'Employment Options Survey' was commissioned by the European Foundation for Living and Working Conditions and the Norwegian Royal Ministry of Labour. It is a representative survey of 30,000 people aged 16-64 years covering the 15 EU member states and Norway.

For further details see the technical report of the fieldwork coordinators (Intratest Burke Sozialforschung 1998), or Fagan (2001a, appendix A.1). 13 The analysis was derived from two open-ended questions: 'In total, how many hours per week do you work at present – on average?' (Question 55) and 'Provided that you (and your partner) could make a free choice so far as working hours are concerned and taking into account the need to earn a living how many hours per week would you prefer to work at present?' (Question 56).

14 Derived from the Employment Status Survey 2001, table 5, from the Statistics Bureau and Statistics Center, Japan ( 14

dampen preferences for working-time reductions, yet at the same time a high proportion of the Japanese workforce are dissatisfied with the balance of their time between employment and leisure (Seifert 1994). The European data show that employed men are even more likely to want to reduce their hours than are employed women, conversely women are more likely to be under-employed and to want to increase their hours (table 7).

Overall, employed men are slightly more likely to have a preference to adjust their hours than employed women. This is partly because men are more likely to be working long hours, as we discuss next. It is also because having young children increases women's propensity to exit employment and one reason for this is that they have been unable to obtain working-time arrangements that are compatible with their care responsibilities (Rubery et al. 1999).

Table 7. near here Preferences for adjustments to hours are clearly related to current hours of work. Very few fulltimers want to work longer hours, and the proportion that wants to reduce their hours rises with the number of hours worked. Part-timers, particularly those in short hour jobs (20 or less) are the most likely to want to work more hours. The under-employment of these part-timers indicates that many of these jobs are designed primarily to meet employers' requirements rather than labour supply preferences. The minority of men who work less than 35 hours a week are even more likely to want to increase their hours than are women with these working hours, while among those working longer hours women are even more likely to want to reduce their hours than are men.

The amount of adjustment that most people want to make is substantial, particularly when considered as a proportion of their current volume of work. Overall, there is a general tendency to prefer to exit the extremes of very short or very long hours of work and move into the middle ground of substantial part-time/short full-time hours in the 20-39 hour range. Some employed men and women who currently occupy this middle ground do want to move, but mainly switching between short full-time and part-time hours. Similarly in the US and Australia the preference is to exit the extremes of very short and very long working weeks (Jacobs and Gerson 2000, Australian Bureau of Statistics 2002).

The net picture in the EU is that on average employed men would prefer a 37-hour week and employed women a 30-hour week; an average reduction of 6 hours and 3.5 hours respectively (table 8). The standard deviation indicates that the spread of preferences around this average is 15

wide for both sexes15 , however it is clear that the general picture is that more of the employed would like to work short full-time or substantial part-time hours than currently do so. On average, 'job seekers'16 have similar working-time preferences to the employed. If working-time preferences were realised in the labour market then the average gender, occupational and national differences in the volume of hours worked would be reduced (Fagan 2001).

Table 8. near here Multivariate analysis showed that the current volume of hours worked was the most significant factor influencing working-time preferences in Europe (Fagan 2001). Once hours were controlled for, then among full-timers men were more likely to want to reduce their hours if they were a manager, highly educated (well-paid) or approaching retirement. Fatherhood had no significant influence on working-time preferences. For women full-timers, the significant circumstances other than the volume of hours were having a young child or being a manager. Once hours were controlled for, then women working part-time were more likely to want to increase their hours if they had older or no children to care for, or were in low-income households.

There is also substantial latent demand among full-timers for working-time reductions through a move into part-time work in the EU-15 and Norway: 23% of employed women and 19% of employed men currently work full-time and would prefer to work part-time, as would 38% of all job seekers. This latent demand for part-time work varied nationally, but is influenced by more factors than just the current availability of part-time work. For example the demand for opportunities to work part-time was relatively low both in some countries where this form of employment is relatively under-developed (e.g.

the Southern European countries) and in some countries where part-time work is already well established (e.g. Sweden). Full-timers wanted to work part-time in order to have more time for children and other domestic activities, for personal activities and to reduce the strains of working; in other words reasons similar to those given by those who do work part-time (see section 2.1 above). Women were more likely to mention childcare, but so did a large minority of the men. All full-timers, regardless of their preferences for part-time work, perceived similar barriers to part-time work. The most commonly mentioned barriers were lack of opportunities for part-time work with their employer and career penalties, followed by inferior social protection entitlements and financial considerations (Fagan 2001).

15 The standard deviation indicates that approximately two thirds of both populations fall within the range of plus or minus 10 hours; that is 27-47 hours for employed men and 20-40 hours for employed women. 16 These were defined in the survey as all those who were not employed but would like a job now or within five years. Taken together, the employed plus 'job seekers' encompassed 90% of all working-age men and 80% of all working-age women in the sample. 16

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