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Insecure workers less likely to have access to family friendly arrangements

February 06, 2018

New research shows that workers who fear they may lose their jobs are less likely to have access to family-friendly flexible working arrangements.

The study, from labour market expert Dr Heejung Chung at the University of Kent, is one of the first to highlight the division across Europe between the flexible arrangements available to skilled and secure staff, often termed 'insider workers', and those accessible by unskilled staff on insecure and non-permanent contracts, termed 'outsider workers'.

Dr Chung focused on women with care responsibilities who have the most demand for family friendly-friendly policies. The two types of non-statutory family-friendly arrangements considered were flexitime and taking time off during working hours for personal reasons.

Low-skilled workers and those who perceived that their jobs were more insecure were less likely to feel that they had access to non-statutory flexible working arrangements. This was because, unlike statutory arrangements, the provision of flexible arrangements can be used by employers to reward or incentivise their 'insider' workers. However, contrary to expectations, there was no significant difference between workers with open-ended contracts and temporary contracts.

She also found that there was a large variation across countries in the extent to which female carers have access to family-friendly arrangements, with greater access in northern European countries and less in many eastern and southern European nations.

However, it is in these northern European nations with the best family-friendly working-time arrangements that the division in access between secure and skilled (insiders) workers and the insecure and unskilled (outsiders) is the greatest.
The study, entitled Dualization and the access to occupational family-friendly working-time arrangements across Europe, is published in the journal Social Policy & Administration. See:

Dr Chung is Reader in Sociology and Social Policy within the University's School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research. Her research interests are broadly around issues concerning cross-national comparative analysis of welfare states and their labour markets.

For more information or interview requests contact Martin Herrema at the University of Kent Press Office.

Tel: 01227 816768


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Notes to editors

Established in 1965, the University of Kent - the UK's European university - now has almost 20,000 students across campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway, Tonbridge, Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome.

It has been ranked 22nd in the Guardian University Guide 2018 and 25th in the Complete University Guide 2018, and in June 2017 was awarded a gold rating, the highest, in the UK Government's Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2015-16, it is in the top 10% of the world's leading universities for international outlook and 66th in its table of the most international universities in the world. The THE also ranked the University as 20th in its 'Table of Tables' 2016.

Kent is ranked 17th in the UK for research intensity (REF 2014). It has world-leading research in all subjects and 97% of its research is deemed by the REF to be of international quality.

In the National Student Survey 2016, Kent achieved the fourth highest score for overall student satisfaction, out of all publicly funded, multi-faculty universities. Along with the universities of East Anglia and Essex, Kent is a member of the Eastern Arc Research Consortium (

The University is worth £0.7 billion to the economy of the south east and supports more than 7,800 jobs in the region. Student off-campus spend contributes £293.3m and 2,532 full-time-equivalent jobs to those totals.

Kent has received two Queen's Anniversary prizes for Higher and Further Education.

University of Kent

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