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Work-Family Linkage and Working Time: What Measures Do Canadian Workers Have and What Do They Want?

Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay, Elmustapha Najem, Renaud Paquet

Our interest in measures to promote conciliation of work and family life has led us to make use of representative statistical data from the Workplace and Employee Survey (WES) in order to assess the overall situation in Canada. Our data indicates that the progress noted as concerns the social debate on the conciliation of work and family life has not necessarily led to any significant improvement in the prerequisite workplace conditions, and in fact there have even been some signs of regression. For example, there has been a slight increase in the number of days worked per week, coming close to an average of 5 days for men and 4.6 days for women in 2002. Moreover, a large percentage of the Canadian labour force works on variable schedules or rotating shifts, an identified source of difficulty when it comes to conciliation. On the other hand, a significant number of workers report working some hours at home, a factor that can favour conciliation, but can also be seen as cutting into their personal lives. WES data indicates that if people work at home it is because of work demands, not because they see this as a factor in conciliation. In fact, what we are seeing is an overlap of work onto personal life. Additionally, though daycare help and daycare in the workplace are priorities on the wish lists of Canadian parents with children under the age of three, hardly more than a quarter of Canadian workers state that their employers were providing such services in 2002. Likewise, eldercare is available to only 10% of Canadian workers. There is some ambiguity as to the impact of the number of children on work time, working hours and preferred work time. With respect to hopes for a shorter working week, though ambiguity is present, it can be observed that people with one or two children are more inclined to hope for a reduction in the number of hours worked. However, there is a link between the number of children and the wish for extra working hours: the more children one has, the less one wants additional hours.