Flexible Working and the Division of Housework and Childcare: Examining Divisions across Arrangement and Occupational Lines
Using the UK Household Longitudinal Study we examine how flexible working is associated with the division of housework and childcare among dual-earner heterosexual couples with young children. Although flexible working may enable better work-family integration, it can also reinforce traditional divisions of domestic labour where women perform more housework and childcare. The degree to which this occurs may vary across arrangements due to differences in the flexibility and permeability of boundaries. We also expect occupational variations but in a paradoxical manner; the constraints and resources workers have may cause the associations to conflict with assumptions based on gender role attitudes. Results show that arrangements that allow more boundary blurring, such as homeworking, are associated with more traditional divisions of childcare but not necessarily of housework. Flexitime, especially for the lower-skilled/paid occupations, enables a more egalitarian division of labour, possibly because it is used to maximise households’ working hours and income.