Family-friendly policies upset work-life balance

Family-friendly policies are keeping parents away from their children, an
Industrial Society seminar heard last week.

The astonishing claim came from author and "work-life balance
guru" Arlie Hochschild, who said some US firms are setting up corporate
villages catering for employees’ every need – including childcare.

"They get you to outsource the care of your own family – child care and
elder care. You do not have much to do with your own community," she told
the meeting, attended by employment minister Tessa Jowell.

Where staff have a choice between the crêche and shorter hours, they go for
the crêche.

It is all part of a move towards all-encompassing services provided by a
company for its staff, often on the premises.

"There is a gym, there is a jogging trail. It is like a college campus.
There is even one workplace which hired an expert who has decided that you need
four hugs a day – and you get them at work."

Evening classes and interest groups are often centred on the workplace, and
people end up going home late, she said.

For many skilled staff home is a more "industrialised" environment
than the workplace. Work is where they find a creative outlet, said Richard
Reeves of the Industrial Society. By contrast, a home with young children,
routines and chores, can resemble the atmosphere of an old-style factory.

By Philip Whiteley

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