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Smith & Wood's Employment Law

Smith & Wood's Employment Law (14th edn)

Ian Smith, Aaron Baker, and Owen Warnock
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date: 03 October 2022

p. 3515. The work–life balance legislationlocked

p. 3515. The work–life balance legislationlocked

  • Ian Smith, Ian Smithof Gray’s Inn, Barrister, Emeritus Professor of Employment Law at the University of East Anglia, General editor of Harvey on Industrial Relations and Employment Law
  • Aaron BakerAaron BakerAssociate Professor (Reader) in Law at Durham University
  •  and Owen WarnockOwen WarnockFormer Partner, Eversheds Sutherland, Solicitors, Emeritus Professor of Employment Law, University of East Anglia, An editor of Harvey on Industrial Relations and Employment Law


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 rights to a guaranteed minimum wage; to rest breaks, paid leave, and a maximum 48-hour working week; to maternity, paternity, adoption, and other parental leave; and 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. Gender inequality forms a central theme of the chapter, noting that many work–life balance problems flow from unequal gender norms in the home, and that legislation should be judged according to how forthrightly it tackles these inequalities.

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