Work–Family Balance Issues and Work–Leave Policies

  • Rosalind B. King
  • Georgia Karuntzos
  • Lynne M. Casper
  • Phyllis Moen
  • Kelly D. Davis
  • Lisa Berkman
  • Mary Durham
  • Ellen Ernst Kossek
Part of the Handbooks in Health, Work, and Disability book series (SHHDW)


Unhealthy work environments are not only the consequence of physical characteristics. Psychosocial aspects of the environment, including control and social support, are also consequential factors. While holding multiple roles as both worker and family member can have positive implications for health, chronic stress experienced from lack of work–family balance has negative effects. This chapter describes an interdisciplinary model of how work–family strains impact the health and well being of employees, their families, and the organizations in which they work. We argue that both structure and culture count at the workplace: work–family conflict increases with both a lack of supervisor support for family obligations and ineffective workplace policies and programs regarding employees’ control over the time and timing of work. We then describe an ongoing randomized field experiment to implement and evaluate a workplace-based prevention program to improve work–family balance. We conclude with the implications of this model for future research.

Demographic, social, technological, and economic changes occurring in the USA since the 1950s have radically altered family life, work, and the labor market, making it harder for families to juggle work and family responsibilities. Given the breadth and pace of these changes, clinical research in occupational health and wellness requires a new model of how stress from work–family balance issues impact the health of employees, their families, and the organizations in which they work. As will be reviewed in the present Chapter, a comprehensive understanding of these mechanisms will provide a schematic for primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention efforts in this area. We will put forward a biopsychosocial model of the occupational health risks from stress associated with work–family balance issues, and also map out the pathways through which the conditions and demands of work, family, and work–family conflict affect health and well-being. Our model incorporates the role of workplace policies, including work–leave policies, in exacerbating or ameliorating the strains on workers and their families. Our theoretical foundation draws on what is known about work–family conflict and health outcomes from basic research across the social and behavioral sciences.


Sick Leave Family Conflict Turnover Intention Supervisor Support Employee Health 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosalind B. King
    • 1
  • Georgia Karuntzos
    • 2
  • Lynne M. Casper
    • 3
  • Phyllis Moen
    • 4
  • Kelly D. Davis
    • 5
  • Lisa Berkman
    • 6
  • Mary Durham
    • 7
  • Ellen Ernst Kossek
    • 8
    • 9
  1. 1.Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.RTI InternationalResearch Triangle ParkUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Department of SociologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  5. 5.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesPenn State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  6. 6.Department of Society, Human Development and HealthHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  7. 7.The Center for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente, Center for Health ResearchPortlandUSA
  8. 8.School of Human Resources and Labor RelationsMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  9. 9.Purdue University Krannert School of Management & Susan Bulkeley Butler Leadership Center, West LafayetteIndiana West LafayetteUSA

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