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Work-Family Balance among University Employees Having Children Aged 11 or Less in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Eve Pouliot, Christiane Bergeron-Leclerc, Danielle Maltais, Jacques Cherblanc, Jacinthe Dion, Pascale Dubois, Ann-Sophie Simard, Gabrielle Ross, Anne-Renée Gravel, Oscar Labra, Cathy Vaillancourt, Taha Abderrafie Moalla

Research Framework: Although all Quebec residents have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and by the health and social measures put in place since March 2020, working parents have been particularly affected by the various stressors caused by this crisis, in both their family and professional life. In such a context, it seems relevant to examine the consequences of the pandemic on work-family balance, and more specifically on the factors associated with it.

Objectives: The purpose of this study is to document the personal, family and work characteristics associated with work-family balance among university employees with children aged 11 or younger in the context of the pandemic.

Methodology: The data used for this study were collected between April 24 and June 5, 2020, through an online survey. A total of 217 staff members from ten institutions of the Quebec University Network completed the survey, which included questions related to work-family balance. Multiple linear regressions were used to determine the respective influence of factors associated with the work-family balance.

Results: Overall, this study shows that university employees having children aged 11 or younger present a majority of moderate to high work-family conflict in the context of the pandemic. It also highlights some of the factors that may help or hinder work-family balance in this population of parents, namely level of parenting strain, satisfaction with sharing childcare and parenting duties, job category, stability of job performance, and number of young school-aged children.

Conclusions: These findings underscore the importance of implementing work and family support programs and respite measures for parents with young school-aged children to help them balance their family and work responsibilities in times of crisis.

Contribution: Although some studies have documented factors associated with work-family balance in times of pandemic, they remain few and only one has been conducted in the Quebec context. Work-family balance is likely to be experienced differently in Quebec, which is different from other countries in terms of its family policy. In addition, this study is the first to look at university employees, a group of workers who were among the first to be affected by the school closures in the spring of 2020.