20 September 2010

Family-friendly workplaces are increasingly on the political agenda – but there are still many issues to address in making this a reality for Australian families.

Dr Carolyn Troup, a UQ Postdoctoral Research Fellow from the Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR), explored the way government workers in Queensland used family leave arrangements.

"A major goal of this study was to investigate the ways organisational culture impacted on the actual use of family leave entitlements," Dr Troup said.

The usage of family leave, both paid and unpaid, has long been an under-researched area.

Building on the close research partnership between ISSR and the Queensland Public Sector Union (QPSU), Dr Troup surveyed the use of family leave by QPSU members – with highly significant results from both a research and policy perspective.

"The public sector has good arrangements formally – it has implemented a substantial, flexible working program, and compared to the private sector, it is generous," Dr Troup said.

"However, the study also found that many employees are not aware of the range of leave entitlements that are available to them."

Dr Troup said preliminary findings suggested that men are increasingly making use of flexible leave arrangements, but misperceptions relating to support and access still existed.

"For employees with dependent children regular use of flexible leave was found to increase life satisfaction," she said.

"However, when employees with dependent children work long hours, perceptions that work interferes in home life persist, despite using these policies.

"This suggests that for some employees the long hours culture continues to hamper their ability to meet both work and family commitments."

Media: Beth Hensler, Senior Marketing and Communications Officer, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (3365 8820 or b.hensler@uq.edu.au).