Population ageing and expected labour shortages mean that successful reconciliation of adult care and paid work is becoming a key issue for employers, employees and frail older people alike. Based on the detailed workplace-related variables in the fourth European Working Condition Survey, we examined differences in levels and determinants of carers’ and non-carers’ role conflict and one of its outcomes, absenteeism. We found caregivers to exhibit higher levels of perceived work–family conflict. Work schedules and time regimes affect carers’ and non-carers’ work–family conflict alike. However, good friends at work and work overload have a larger impact on carers’ work–family conflict. Furthermore, we found indications for a trade-off between perceived work-to-family conflict and absenteeism via workplace policies.
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By workplace policies we do not mean referral services for caregivers to dependent adults or daycare centers, because information on the availability of these services is not included in the dataset. Instead we focused on work time arrangements and flexibility.
The number of missing values per variable ranges from about 0.02–0.4 %.
This does not elicit whether a large enough quantity of time could be allocated to family commitments, but whether working hours fit in with those commitments. While concerning childcare commitments the objective may be to spend at least a certain amount of time with the family, time-related concerns in adult care scenarios are often of a different nature and flexibility is of more importance (Smith 2004, p. 369). The wording of the question in the EWCS is highly appropriate for analysis of time-related issues in adult care.
Exact wording: “In your main paid job, over the past 12 months, have you been absent for any of the following reasons?” Possible answers were: “Maternity or paternity leave,” “Educational leave,” “Family-related leave,” “Health problems” and “Other reasons” (Parent-Thirion et al. 2007, p. 126, emph. added). An analysis of the number of sick leave days produced too unsound results and is thus not discussed in this paper.
Health-related absences were included since it might be the case that respondents attributed care-related absences to health reasons if they could not get time off and resorted to feigning ill. Furthermore, caregiving has been found to have a significant impact on caregiver’s health status (Beach et al. 2000; Burton et al. 2004).
Data on the ISCED level of education and income decile of respondents were considered as additional controls. Income and education have been shown to influence work–family conflict. This is because low-income and low-education jobs may offer less work time flexibility and other family-friendly benefits than low-income jobs (Weigt and Solomon 2008). Then again, high-income or high-education jobs might require more involvement in work in general (Schieman et al. 2006). However, we did not control for education because EWCS data allow direct control for (informal) work time flexibility, support at workplace and work overload via its detailed work-related variables. A direct effect of income on work–life conflict might exist if a larger income allowed for purchase of care services (Weigt and Solomon 2008), but no significant effect could be found. Furthermore, if income or education were included as controls in the analysis of absenteeism, endogeneity issues would arise, since absenteeism-prone workers could end up in worse paid jobs or decide to invest less in their education (Allen 1981).
Introduction of NACE classification of economic sector has been considered, but has turned out not to have any significant effect. Further clustering countries by welfare state regimes (Esping-Andersen 1990) or care regimes (Bettio and Plantenga 2004) has not improved the fit of the model. Country effects do not significantly correlate within such care regimes. Considering that adult care often does not mirror childcare policies, a classification of family care regimes might be necessary (Frericks and Pfau-Effinger 2011). Furthermore, as the country effects incorporate a number of factors not attributable to the welfare or care regime, their direct interpretation is even more problematic.
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Zuba, M., Schneider, U. What Helps Working Informal Caregivers? The Role of Workplace Characteristics in Balancing Work and Adult-Care Responsibilities. J Fam Econ Iss 34, 460–469 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-012-9347-7
- Work–family conflict
- Elder care
- Informal care
- Work-to-family conflict