Work-life balance and family friendly policies


Share / Export Citation / Email / Print / Text size:

Evidence Base

Australia and New Zealand School of Government

Subject: Management


eISSN: 1838-9422





Volume / Issue / page

Related articles

VOLUME 2013 , ISSUE 4 (December 2013) > List of articles

  • |

Work-life balance and family friendly policies

Natalie Skinner * / Janine Chapman

Citation Information : Evidence Base. Volume 2013, Issue 4, Pages 1-17, DOI:

License : (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Published Online: 27-February-2017



This paper presents Australian and international research on work-life interaction. We review the work-life policies and practices that are likely to have the greatest impact on work-life outcomes, specifically reducing the negative impact of work on other life domains (work-life interference), and enhancing the positive effect (work-life facilitation). The review addresses four policy areas common in work-life studies of the general workforce: employee-centered flexible work practices; working hours (e.g. access to part-time work); paid and unpaid leave (e.g. parental leave); and access to childcare. It then considers the work-life literature related to two specific industries – the Australian public sector, and health and social services – to identify work-life issues and practices specific to each industry. We then conclude with a general discussion of challenges associated with the policy-practice gap, focusing particularly on work intensification and the role of organisational culture as the catalyst for policy uptake and effectiveness.

Content not available PDF Share



  1. Ala-Mursula, L, Vahtera, J, Kouvonen, A, Väänänen, A, Linna, A, Pentti, J and Kivimäki, M 2006. Long hours in paid and domestic work and subsequent sickness absence: does control over daily working hours matter? Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 63(9): 608–616. 
  2. Alexander, M and Baxter, J 2005. Impact of work on family life among partnered parents of young children, Family Matters, 72: 18-25. 
  3. Allen, TD, Herst, DEL, Bruck, CS and Sutton, M 2000. Consequences associated with work-to-family conflict: A review and agenda for future research, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 5(2): 278–308. 
  4. Allen, TD, Johnson, RC, Kiburz, KM and Shockley, KM 2013. Work–family conflict and flexible work arrangements: Deconstructing flexibility, Personnel Psychology, 66(2): 345–376. 
  5. Amstad, FT, Meier, LL, Fasel, U, Elfering, A and Semmer, NK 2011. A meta-analysis of work-family conflict and various outcomes with a special emphasis on cross-domain versus matching-domain relations, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 16(2): 151–169. 
  6. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2009. Australian Social Trends, September, Cat. No. 4102.0, ABS, Canberra. 
  7. Baehler, K and Bryson, J 2009. Behind the beehive buzz: Sources of occupational stress for New Zealand policy officials, Kotuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, 4(1): 5–23. 
  8. Bailyn, L, Collins, R and Yang, S 2007. Self-scheduling for hospital nurses: An attempt and its difficulties, Journal of Nursing Management, 15(1): 72–77. 
  9. Baines, D 2011. ‘It was just too hard to come back’: Unintended policy impacts on work–family balance in the Australian and Canadian non-profit social services, Community, Work and Family, 14(2): 233–248. 
  10. Baird, M 2011. The state, work and family in Australia, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 22(18): 3742–3754. 
  11. Baird, M and Whitehouse, G 2012. Paid Parental Leave: First Birthday Policy Review, Australian Bulletin of Labour, 38(3): 184–198. 
  12. Bardoel, E, Morgan, L and Santos, C 2007. ‘Quality’ part-time work in Australian organizations: implications for HRD, Human Resource Development International, 10(3): 281–299. 
  13. Bardoel, EA, De Cieri, H and Santos, C 2008. A review of work-life research in Australia and New Zealand, Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 46(3): 316–333. 
  14. Barley, SR, Meyerson, DE and Grodal, S 2011. E-mail as a source and symbol of stress, Organization Science, 22(4): 887–906. 
  15. Barnett, RC and Gareis, KC 2002. Full-time and reduced-hours work schedules and marital quality: A study of female physicians with young children, Work and Occupations, 29(3): 364–379. 
  16. Barnett, RC, Gareis, KC and Brennan, RT 2008. Wives’ shift work schedules and husbands’ and wives’ well-being in dual-earner couples with children: A within-couple analysis, Journal of Family Issues, 29(3): 396–422. 
  17. Beauregard, TA and Henry, LC 2009. Making the link between work-life balance practices and organizational performance, Human Resource Management Review, 19(1): 9–22. 
  18. Beutell, N and Wittig-Berman, U 2008. Work-family conflict and work-family synergy for generation X, baby boomers, and matures: Generational differences, predictors, and satisfaction outcomes, Journal of Managerial Psychology, 23(5): 507–523. 
  19. Bianchi, SM and Milkie, MA 2010. Work and family research in the first decade of the 21st century, Journal of Marriage and Family, 72(3): 705–725. 
  20. Bohanna, I, Davis, E, Corr, L, Priest, N and Tan, H 2012. Family day care in Australia: A systematic review of research (1996–2010), Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 37(4): 138–146. 
  21. Boulin, J, Lallement, M, Messenger, J and Michon, F 2006. Decent working time, International Labour Office, Geneva. 
  22. Breunig, R, Weiss, A, Yamauchi, C, Gong, X and Mercante, J 2011. Child care availability, quality and affordability: Are local problems related to labour supply? Economic Record, 87(276): 109–124. 
  23. Brough, P, Holt, J, Bauld, R, Biggs, A and Ryan, C 2008. The ability of work—life balance policies to influence key social/organisational issues, Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 46(3): 261–274. 
  24. Brough, P and O'Driscoll, MP 2010. Organizational interventions for balancing work and home demands: An overview, Work and Stress, 24(3): 280–297. 
  25. Brough, P, O'Driscoll, MP and Biggs, A 2009. Parental leave and work-family balance among employed parents following childbirth: An exploratory investigation in Australia and New Zealand, Kotuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, 4(1): 71–87. 
  26. Brough, P, O'Driscoll, MP and Kalliath, TJ 2005. The ability of ‘family friendly’ organizational resources to predict work–family conflict and job and family satisfaction, Stress and Health, 21(4): 223–234. 
  27. Brown, M 2012. Responses to work intensification: does generation matter? The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23(17): 3578–3595. 
  28. Carlson, D and Grzywacz, JG 2008. Reflections and future directions on measurement in work-family research. In K Korabik, DS Lero and DL Whitehead (eds) Handbook of work-family integration, Academic Press, London, 57–74. 
  29. Chang, A, McDonald, P and Burton, P 2010. Methodological choices in work-life balance research 1987 to 2006: a critical review, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21(13): 2381–2413 
  30. Colley, L 2010. Central policies, local discretion: A review of employee access to work-life balance arangements in a public sector agency, Australian Bulletin of Labour, 36(2): 214–237. 
  31. Dilworth, J and Kingsbury, N 2005. Home-to-job spillover for generation X, boomers, and matures: A comparison, Journal of Family and Economic Issues 26(2): 267–281. 
  32. Donnelly, N, Proctor-Thomson, S and Plimmer, G 2012. The role of ‘voice’ in matters of ‘choice’: Flexible work outcomes for women in the New Zealand Public Services, Journal of Industrial Relations, 54(2): 182–203. 
  33. Drago, R, Wooden, M and Black, D 2006. Who Wants flexibility? Changing Work Hours Preferences and Life Events, Institute for the Study of Labour (IZA) Discussion Paper No. 2404, Institute for the Study of Labour (IZA), Bonn. 
  34. Duxbury, L and Smart, R 2011. The “myth of separate worlds”: An exploration of how mobile technology has redefined work-life balance. In S Kaiser, MJ Ringlstetter, DR Eikhof and MP e Cunha (eds) Creating balance? Springer, Berlin, 269–284. 
  35. Erickson, JJ, Martinengo, G and Hill, EJ 2010. Putting work and family experiences in context: Differences by family life stage, Human Relations 63(7): 955–979. 
  36. European Parliament 2003. Directive 2003/88/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time. 
  37. Gilboa, S, Shirom, A, Fried, Y and Cooper, C 2008. A meta-analysis of work demand stressors and job performance: Examining main and moderating effects, Personnel Psychology, 61(2): 227–271. 
  38. Gray, M, Qu, L, Stanton, D and Weston, R 2004. Long work hours and the wellbeing of fathers and their families, Australian Journal of Labour Economics, 7(2): 255–273. 
  39. Gregg, M 2011. Work's Intimacy, Polity Press, Cambridge. 
  40. Haar, JM 2004. Work-family conflict and turnover intention: Exploring the moderation effects of perceived work-family support, New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 33(1): 35–39. 
  41. Haar, JM and Bardoel, EA 2008. Positive spillover from the work—family interface: A study of Australian employees, Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 46(3): 275–287. 
  42. Haas, L and Rostgaard, T 2011. Fathers’ rights to paid parental leave in the Nordic countries: Consequences for the gendered division of leave, Community, Work and Family, 14(2): 177–195. 
  43. Hammer, LB, Kossek, EE, Yragui, NL, Bodner, TE and Hanson, GC 2009. Development and validation of a multidimensional measure of family supportive supervisor behaviors (FSSB), Journal of Management, 35(4): 837–856. 
  44. Hayman, J 2010. Flexible work schedules and employee well-being, New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations (Online), 35(2): 76–87. 
  45. Hayman, JR 2009. Flexible work arrangements: exploring the linkages between perceived usability of flexible work schedules and work/life balance, Community, Work and Family, 12(3): 327–338. 
  46. Hegewisch, A 2009. Flexible Working Policies: A Comparative Review, Equality and Human Rights Commission Research Report Series, Manchester. 
  47. Hegewisch, A and Gornick, JC 2011. The impact of work-family policies on women's employment: a review of research from OECD countries, Community, Work and Family, 14(2): 119–138. 
  48. Higgins, C, Duxbury, L and Johnson, K 2004. Exploring the Link Between Work-life Conflict and Demands on Canada's Health Care System, Ottawa, Ontario: Healthy Communities Division, Health Canada. 
  49. Holden, L, Scuffham, P, Hilton, M, Vecchio, N and Whiteford, H 2010. Work performance decrements are associated with Australian working conditions, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 52(3): 281–290. 
  50. Hoobler, JM, Hu, J and Wilson, M 2010. Do workers who experience conflict between the work and family domains hit a ‘glass ceiling?’: A meta-analytic examination, Journal of Vocational Behavior, 77(3): 481–494. 
  51. Hosking, A and Western, M 2008. The effects of non-standard employment on work—family conflict, Journal of Sociology, 44(1): 5–27. 
  52. Hutchens, RM and Dentinger, E 2003. Moving toward retirement. In P Moen (ed) It’s About Time: Couples and Careers, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 259–274. 
  53. Jansen, N, Kant, I, Kristensen, T and Nijhuis, F 2003. Antecedents and consequences of work-family conflict: A prospective cohort study, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 45(5): 479–491. 
  54. Jansen, N, Kant, I, Nijhuis, F, Swaen, G and Kristensen, T 2004. Impact of worktime arrangements on work-home interference among Dutch employees, Scandinavian Journal of Work and Environmental Health, 30(2): 139–148. 
  55. Joyce, K, Pabayo, R, Critchley, J and Bambra, C 2010. Flexible working conditions and their effects on employee health and wellbeing, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 2. 
  56. Kelly, EL, Kossek, EE, Hammer, LB, Durham, M, Bray, J, Chermack, K, Murphy, LA and Kaskubar, D 2008. Getting there from here: Research on the effects of work-family initiatives on work-family conflict and business outcomes, Academy of Management Annals, 2(1): 305–349.
  57. Kelly, EL, Moen, P and Tranby, E 2011. Changing workplaces to reduce work-family conflict: Schedule control in a white-collar organization, American Sociological Review, 76(2): 265–290. 
  58. King, R, Karuntzos, G, Casper, L, Moen, P, Davis, K, Berkman, L, Durham, M and Kossek, E 2012. Work–family balance issues and work–leave policies. In Gatchel, RJ and Schultz, IZ (eds.) Handbook of Occupational Health and Wellness, Springer US. 
  59. Lindorff, M 2011. Job satisfaction and gender in the APS: Who'd want to be a male? Australian Journal of Public Administration, 70(1): 58–74. 
  60. Lindsay, J, Maher, J and Bardoel, A 2009. Modified maternalism: Nurses and their families managing work and care in Australia, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 40(4): 661–675. 
  61. Losoncz, I and Bortolotto, N 2009. Work-life balance: the experiences of Australian working mothers Journal of Family Studies, v.15, no.2, 15(2): 122–138. 
  62. Macky, K and Boxall, P 2008. High-involvement work processes, work intensification and employee well-being: A study of New Zealand worker experiences, Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 46(1): 38–55. 
  63. Magee, CA, Stefanic, N, Caputi, P and Iverson, DC 2012. The Association Between Job Demands/Control and Health in Employed Parents: The Mediating Role of Work-to-Family Interference and Enhancement, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 17(2): 196–205. 
  64. Maher, J, Lindsay, J and Bardoel, EA 2010. Freeing time? The ‘family time economies’ of nurses, Sociology, 44(2): 269–287. 
  65. Mauno, S 2010. Effects of work-family culture on employee well-being: exploring moderator effects in a longitudinal sample, European Journal of Organizational Psychology, 19(6), 675–695. 
  66. Mccrea, R, Boreham, P and Ferguson, M 2011. Reducing work-to-life interference in the public service: The importance of participative management as mediated by other work attributes, Journal of Sociology, 47(3): 313–332. 
  67. Mcdonald, P, Bradley, L and Brown, K 2009. ‘Full-time is a given here’: Part-time versus full-time job quality, British Journal of Management, 20(2): 143–157. 
  68. Mcdonald, P, Pini, B and Bradley, L 2007. Freedom or fallout in local government? How work-life culture impacts employees using flexible work practices, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18(4): 602–622. 
  69. Moen, P 2011. From 'work-family' to the 'gendered life course' and 'fit': Five challenges to the field, Community, Work and Family, 14(1): 81–96. 
  70. Moen, P, Kelly, E and Hill, R 2011a. Does enhancing work-time control and flexibility reduce turnover? A naturally occurring experiment, Social problems, 58(1): 69–98. 
  71. Moen, P, Kelly, EL, Tranby, E and Huang, Q 2011b. Changing work, changing health: Can real work-time flexibility promote health behaviors and well-being? Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 52(4): 404–429. 
  72. Moen P, Kelly, E and Huang, Q 2008. Work, family and life-course fit: Does control over work time matter? Journal of Vocational Behavior, 73(3): 414–425. 
  73. Morrissey, TW and Warner, ME 2011. An exploratory study of the impacts of an employer-supported child care program, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26(3): 344–354. 
  74. Nabe-Nielsen, K, Garde, AH and Diderichsen, F 2011. The effect of work-time influence on health and well-being: A quasi-experimental intervention study among eldercare workers, International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 84(6): 683–95. 
  75. Nijp, HHM, Beckers, DGJP, Geurts, SaEP, Tucker, PP and Kompier, MaJP 2012. Systematic review on the association between employee worktime control and work-non-work balance, health and well-being, and job-related outcomes, Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, 38(4): 299–313. 
  76. Nowak, MJ, Naude, M and Thomas, G 2013. Returning to work after maternity leave: Childcare and workplace flexibility, Journal of Industrial Relations, 55(1): 118–135. 
  77. O'Driscoll, MP, Poelmans, S, Spector, PE, Kalliath, T, Allen, TD, Cooper, CL and Sanchez, JI 2003. Family-responsive interventions, perceived organizational and supervisor support, work-family conflict, and psychological strain, International Journal of Stress Management, 10(4): 326–344. 
  78. Payne, SC, Cook, AL and Diaz, I 2012. Understanding childcare satisfaction and its effect on workplace outcomes: The convenience factor and the mediating role of work-family conflict, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 85(2): 225–244. 
  79. Peetz, D, Muurlink, O, Townsend, K, Allan, C and Fox, A 2011. Quality and quantity in work-home conflict: The nature and direction of effects of work on employees' personal relationships and partners, Australian Bulletin of Labour, 37(2): 138–163. 
  80. Perrucci, R, Macdermid, S, King, E, Tang, C-Y, Brimeyer, T, Ramadoss, K, Kiser, S and Swanberg, J 2007. The significance of shift work: Current status and future directions, Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 28(4): 600–617.
  81. Pisarski, A, Lawrence, SA, Bohle, P and Brook, C 2008. Organizational influences on the work life conflict and health of shiftworkers, Applied Ergonomics, 39(5): 580–588. 
  82. Pocock, B, Charlesworth, S and Chapman, J 2013. Work-family and work-life pressures in Australia: Advancing gender equality in ‘good times’? International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 33(9/10): 594–612. 
  83. Pocock, B and Skinner N 2013. Morning, noon and night: The infiltration of work email into personal and family life, Centre for Work + Life, University of South Australia, Adelaide. 
  84. Pocock, B, Skinner, N and Williams, P 2012. Time Bomb. Work rest and play in Australia today, NewSouth Publishing, Sydney. 
  85. Pryce, J, Albertsen, K and Nielsen, K 2006. Evaluation of an open-rota system in a Danish psychiatric hospital: a mechanism for improving job satisfaction and work–life balance, Journal of Nursing Management, 14(4): 282–288. 
  86. Productivity Commission 2009. Paid Parental Leave: Support for Parents with Newborn Children, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra. 
  87. Raymo, JM and Sweeney, MM 2006. Work-family conflict and retirement preferences, The Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 61: S161–S169. 
  88. Renda, J, Baxter, J and Alexander, M 2009. Exploring the work-family policies mothers say would help after the birth of a child, Australian Journal of Labour Economics, 12(1): 65–87. 
  89. Shacklock, K and Brunetto, Y 2012. The intention to continue nursing: work variables affecting three nursing generations in Australia, Journal of Advanced Nursing, (1) 36–46. 
  90. Shrestha, D and Joyce, CM 2011. Aspects of work–life balance of Australian general practitioners: determinants and possible consequences, Australian Journal of Primary Health, 17(1): 40–47 
  91. Skinner, N and Pocock, B 2008. Work-life conflict: Is work time or work overload more important? Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 46(3): 303–315. 
  92. Skinner, N and Pocock, B 2011a. Flexibility and work-life interference in Australia, Journal of Industrial Relations, 53(1): 65–82. 
  93. Skinner, N, Van Dijk, P, Elton, J and Auer, J 2011b. An in-depth study of Australian nurses’ and midwives’ work-life interaction, Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 49(2): 213–232. 
  94. Skinner, N and Pocock, B 2013a. Paid annual leave in Australia: Who gets it, who takes it and implications for work–life interference, Journal of Industrial Relations, . 
  95. Skinner, N, Elton, J, Auer, J and Pocock, B 2013b. Understanding and managing work–life interaction across the life course: a qualitative study, Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, early online . 
  96. Smith, AJ and Williams, DR 2007. Father-friendly legislation and paternal time across Western Europe, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 9(2): 175–192. 
  97. Smith, J and Gardner, D 2007. Factors affecting employee use of work-life balance initiatives, New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 36(1): 3–12. 
  98. Soma, K, Thomson, W, Morgaine, K and Harding, W 2012. A qualitative investigation of specialist orthodontists in New Zealand: Part 2. Orthodontists' working lives and work-life balance, Australian Orthodontic Journal, 28(2): 170–180. 
  99. Todd, P and Binns, J 2013. Work–life balance: Is it now a problem for management? Gender, Work and Organization, 20(3): 219–231. 
  100. Whitehouse, G, Diamond, C and Baird, M 2007. Fathers’ use of leave in Australia, Community, Work and Family, 10(4): 387–407. 
  101. West, S, Mapedzahama, V, Ahern, M and Rudge, T 2012. Rethinking shiftwork: mid-life nurses making it work! Nursing Inquiry, 19(2): 177–187. 
  102. Work + Family Policy Roundtable 2013. Work, Care and Family Policies: Election Benchmarks 2013, March, viewed 13 January 2014, .



  • |