Mothers' employment is widely perceived as having far-reaching effects on family relationships. The main work-life balance policies promoted by the government focus on the amount of time mothers spend at work. This report challenges this approach. It suggests that what happens inside the workplace and how this interacts with family life is just as important. The report explores how mothers and their partners understand the impact of the mother's employment on their couple and parenting relationships, using a hospital and an accountancy firm as case studies. It highlights the way different aspects of paid work affect family relationships. The report: considers the impact of workplace ethos and working practices on family relationships; explores the extent and implications of the autonomy and control that mothers experience in the workplace; illustrates the importance of whether or not mothers choose, or are constrained in, how work and family life interact; and draws on in-depth interviews with mothers and fathers to present both parents' perspectives. This report will be of interest to academics, policy makers and practitioners concerned with work-life balance issues.
Tracey Reynolds is a Research Fellow with expertise in ethnicity and families. Claire Callender is Professor of Social Policy with extensive research and policy experience in the fields of employment and of higher education. Rosalind Edwards is Professor in Social Policy and has researched and written widely in the area of families. All are members of the Families & Social Capital ESRC Research Group at South Bank University, London.