Monday, 5 November 2012

Schedule flexibility in hourly jobs: unanticipated consequences and promising directions

Susan J. Lambert and Julia R. Henly (University of Chicago, USA) and Anna Haley-Lock (University of Wisconsin, USA) published in Community, Work & Family Volume 15 Issue 3 (2012)


This article considers the challenge of extending conventional models of flexibility to hourly jobs that are often structured quite differently than the salaried, professional positions for which flexibility options were originally designed.

We argue that the assumptions of job rigidity and overwork motivating existing flexibility options may not be broadly applicable across jobs in the US labor market.

We focus specifically on two types of flexibility: (1) working reduced hours and (2) varying work timing.

We first review central aspects of the US business and policy contexts that inspire our concerns, and then draw on original analyses from US census data and several examples from our comparative case-study research to explain how conventional flexibility options do not always map well onto hourly jobs, and in certain instances may disadvantage workers by undermining their ability to earn an adequate living.

We conclude with a discussion of alternative approaches to implementing flexibility in hourly jobs when hours are scarce and fluctuating rather than long and rigid.

Hazel’s comment:
The authors were looking specifically at the US labour market but it would seem to me that the conclusions would translate well to the UK labour market.
Extending flexibility is not always a good idea.

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