Gendered nature of the provision and use of flexitime: when do women get access to flexitime?

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
TW1.2.04 (Tower One)
Heejung Chung, University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom
One way of simultaneously increasing work-life balance for workers while keeping costs down for both governments and companies is the use of flexitime – that is providing workers control over their start and finishing times, and sometimes the number of hours worked per day. Since flexible work arrangements can be used and provided to address the demands of workers with family obligations, it is assumed that women will benefit most from it – given their roles in providing care and involvement in domestic tasks. However, flexitime is also provided to workers to increase performance outcomes in the company– as a part of a high performance strategy, mostly given to workers with more power and influence in the firm, i.e., those in higher statuses and most likely men. Given the two rather different ways in which flexitime is provided, studies have also shown conflicting results regarding gender differences in the access to flexitime. However, what previous studies lack is examining whether different company, occupational and country context may impact the way in which flexitime is being used – and thus may result in different gender discrepancies. This issue has rarely been tested, especially in a cross-national perspective.

More specifically this paper asks the following questions: Is there a gender difference in the access and use of flexitime? Does this largely depend on the contexts the workers are in – i.e., the gender of the supervisor, the proportion of women in the company or occupation, family policy generosity, gender norms at the country level, and/or female labour market participation at the country level? These questions are answered through the use of multilevel modelling techniques with the European Company Survey 2009 and the European Working Conditions Survey 2010.

Preliminary outcomes show that companies with more women are likely to provide flexitime, and countries with more women in the labour market are the ones where flexitime is provided most widely. Yet at the individual level there are no gender differences in the access individuals have to flexitime, when other important factors are taken into account. Having a superior that is a women does not help women to gain more access. More importantly, workers respond that they have less access to flexitime in jobs where women are the majority.