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Work and family life balance: the impact of the 35-hour laws in France

Jeanne Fagnani and Marie-Thérèse Letablier
Work, Employment & Society
Vol. 18, No. 3 (SEPTEMBER 2004), pp. 551-572
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23748152
Page Count: 22
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Abstract

Is it sufficient to reduce working time to improve the work and family balance? This article attempts to answer this question by analyzing the impact of the French law reducing the working week to 35 hours on the daily life, as perceived by parents with a young child under six years old. Six out of ten respondents reported a positive impact of the reduction on their work/family balance. Their judgment is dependent on the organization of work, whether it is regular and based on standard working hours or irregular schedules. It is also correlated to the negotiation process in the workplace. Inequalities between workers are revealed: between those employed in sheltered economic sectors and 'family-friendly' companies, and those who have to accept unsocial or flexible hours of work in exchange of a reduction of their working time. The article concludes that the 35-hours law has widened the gap between these two groups of workers irrespective of gender and professional status.

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