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Smith & Wood's Employment Law

Smith & Wood's Employment Law (16th edn)

Ian Smith and Owen Warnock
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date: 23 June 2024

p. 3595. The work–life balance legislationlocked

p. 3595. The work–life balance legislationlocked

  • Ian Smith,
  • Owen Warnock
  •  and Gemma Mitchell


This chapter addresses a number of legislative regimes creating rights that affect the balance between work and life outside of work. Specifically, the discussion focuses on the controls over working hours and rest breaks and the right to paid annual leave in the Working Time Regulations; the law on maternity, adoption, paternity, shared parental, and other parental leave; and the right to request flexible working arrangements. Although not all of these rights can claim work–life balance as their original policy driver, they have come to be seen as representing a loosely coherent programme for ensuring that the process of earning a living does not preclude any worker from enjoying other aspects of life, especially family life. The chapter considers, singly, each of these work–life rights and the policies and legislation behind them, and assesses whether the law delivers effective and useful rights. Gender inequality forms a central theme of the chapter, noting that many work–life balance problems flow from unequal gender norms in the home.

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