Work Life Balance

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2005 National Delegate Conference
8 June 2005

Whilst Conference welcomes UNISON’s work on work life balance/family friendly policies the changing demands of the workplace mean that women in the main, and increasingly men, find it harder to juggle the pressure of work, family, and other caring and outside responsibilities.

There are a number of issues which need to be highlighted and addressed:

1)there are currently particular problems faced by women, especially part-time workers and workers on atypical contracts and gaps in worker groups who normally access work life balance policies, often excluding staff who work in a support role to clients or frontline staff;

2)whilst parental responsibility for children under six, or 18 for disabled children, is considered under the Employment Act 2002, other caring responsibility and parental responsibility for children over six years is excluded;

3)affects on pension contributions long term when parents/carers have to take unpaid leave to care for children, dependants and so on, meaning these workers will have to work even longer to get a similar pension to other workers;

4)possibly higher and masked rates of staff sickness if time is taken off to look after dependants;

5)work life balance policy requests from workers can be refused on the grounds of cost, whilst there is a genuine cost saving to employers in terms of training and recruitment that should be factored in.

Conference resolves to call on:

a)UNISON National Executive Council to lobby government for extra dedicated funds to cover the effective implementation of local work life balance policies and to run a campaign using the General Political Fund to highlight the provisions of work life balance policies and the gaps identified, including research where possible;

b)local branches and regions to lobby employers to ensure work life balance policies are effectively and equitably implemented for all sections of the workforce including social services and other front line staff;

c)the National Executive Council to audit how work life balance has been applied in different environments and different workplaces; identify good practice and publicise these throughout UNISON and provide a tool kit and campaign materials for branches to use;

d)the National Executive Council to ask the Affiliated Political Fund to continue to press central government and devolved and direct rule administrations to strengthen rights for all workers to ensure a healthy work life balance.