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Chapter 7 first explores the theory behind protecting people with disabilities and workers with caregiving responsibilities. It then explores the practical justifications for protecting these groups of employees. Finally, it explains why my proposals go beyond protecting specific groups of employees and instead protected everyone.
In the period leading up to the federal government’s May 2009 announcement of a paid parental leave scheme, there was a surge in community and media debate about the absence of such a scheme in Australia. This article explores whether this context had some bearing on bargaining outcomes during that time. We analyse data from the Australian Workplace Agreements Database to determine the incidence and length of paid parental leave in collective agreements registered between 2005 and 2010. The results show an increase in the number of agreements that included paid parental leave clauses in the period, with just over 14% of all current agreements including a paid parental leave clause by 2010. Moreover, 18% of all agreements lodged in 2010 included a paid parental leave clause, suggesting an increase in bargaining outcomes over time. We also find a slight increase in the average duration of paid parental leave in collective agreements. A leave of 14 weeks is most common in public sector agreements but less than 3% of agreements in the private sector provide for 14 weeks or more. These marked differences between the public and private sectors suggest minimal change in private sector bargaining outcomes. We conclude that the legislative context does influence bargaining outcomes, but that this effect is felt more in public sector than private sector bargaining.
This paper focuses on the increasing significance of flexibility arguments to UK employment equality law. It makes use of the well-evidenced legal and governmental preoccupation with working time to investigate the production and circulation of concepts of flexibility through equality law case reports from the period 2001–2010. With case reports as my main focus, I trace how flexibility emerges through legal documental networks, so as to work out the contours of our collectively imagined “efficient” and “well-balanced” working practices. Human actors and significant non-human actors combine within and across case reports to produce and support a general set of understandings about legal flexibility. These understandings, as we have seen, suggest that flexibility is just as much a matter of organic or physical capabilities as it is of time. Concepts of elasticity, adaptability, and balance, therefore, force us to reconsider the meanings and motivations of governmental and oppositional constructions of work-life dilemmas.
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