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Flexible Working Practices and Worklife Balance

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The concept does not revolve round the balance between the family and career but it needs to be a more comprehensive approach that analyses the balance that employees and employers strike between work and life outside of work. While it is very difficult to achieve a perfect work-life balance, difficulties have been perceived even in achieving a sustainable or a desirable one.The UK labour market is one the most flexible in the world which benefits both the workers and the employers. UK has a high employment rate of just below 75% which indicates a strong and healthy labour market. The unemployment rate is low but the labour market exhibits a high degree of labour turnover. Around 6 million leave jobs every year and similar number find new jobs. These job changes are voluntary and they feel secure in their jobs. Amongst other reasons, flexibility and work-life balance have caused changes in the traditional labor market model (Doogan, 2003).The legal framework influencing work-life balance has to be taken into account. According to the Employment Relations Act (1999), an individual is entitled to 18 weeks of maternity leave and 13 weeks of parental leave apart from leave for emergency situations connected with the dependents at home (Hogarth et al, 2003). Through the Part-time Workers Regulations 2000 the government encourages oppurtunities for part-time working. Part-time working has gained importance because of changes in human resource strategies, increased female participation rates, industrial restructuring, impact of technology (Hogarth et al, 2003) and due to changes in family structure and an ageing population (Lewis Smithson, 2001).The increase in women’s employment has predominantly been in the services sector which provide little career enhancement oppurtunities even though these are low-skilled and part time jobs.Women change jobs twice as often as men, which is a reason for concern and warrant research.