Changing Patterns of Work for Women for the Last twenty years

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Patterns of work have changed for women over the last twenty years. There are many different patterns of work available to individuals, these include; Full-time work in which you work a 35 hour week which allows you to obtain benefits such as sick leave, maternity leave and financial security. In 2002, the number of mothers working full-time was 19.2%[*] . Casual work allows you to have adjusted hours of work and income. A person doing casual work will only know a week in advance when they will be working and the times may vary. Contract work allows you to have your office home based if needed, can be fitting to financial needs and arranged around commitments. Part-time work enables you to have the same position and same hours of work though it is generally fewer than 35 hours per week. The number of mothers employed part-time on 2002 was 33.9%[†] . Voluntary work allows you to gain experience without being paid but is very helpful to get another job in the future. Another pattern of work is self-employment . Self-employment permits you to be your own boss and set your own guidelines and work hours. Tele-commuting authorises you to be independent and allows you to work from home and have flexible hours. Seasonal work can be suited to financial needs and allows you to move around. Working from home is another option of work. It lets you chose your own hours and is very flexible.

An individual may move from one pattern of work to another because of many different factors, these may comprise; Education, technology and family circumstances. Education may be a factor because of wrong changes that may have been made earlier on in life, for example, a woman when finishing school thought she did not have the same career choices as a male so chose a different career path that she would have liked because things were different back then. She may now choose to go to university and further her education to go into the line of business she prefers more. Another example, which may cause an individual to move from one pattern of work to another, may be technology. Technology is a day-by-day changing fixation and new lines of work come through all the time. An example could be new technology has resulted in shift work. The new line of technology needs to be monitored 24 hours a day so now; people are working round the clock doing shift work. Family circumstances are a common cause of individuals moving from one pattern of work to another. There are many different circumstances that can take place. An example is a woman’s elderly mother has become ill and needs to move in with the woman and have frequent attention. The woman may have used to work long days but no longer can, as she needs to look after her mother. The woman either can take time off work or will have to get a new job with fewer hours and commitment. Social factors such as these may cause an individual to move from one pattern of work to another.

A range of strategies could be used to assist in managing the multiple roles and demands of family, work and other commitments. These strategies could incorporate setting a goal, planning what needs to be done, organising what needs to be done regarding reaching the goal, implementing how you are going to go about it and then evaluating the result. The demands of a family can be great so a range of strategies need to be put into place before reaching a goal. Sharing domestic chores between husband and wife, getting the kids to help around the house, and making a roster for things that need to be done will help manage the multiple roles and demands of family commitments. Work and family demands may become entwined. For example, a new mother wants to return to work. Her planning, organising and implementing would include negotiating flexible hours, finding childcare, working out domestic chores such as grocery shopping and cooking dinner, financial costs and making arrangements regarding how this will all be done. The evaluation of all of this will only be a positive result if her management strategies have all this taken into consideration. Other commitments such as getting cleaners or gardeners to help with chores could be deliberated. She will then need to evaluate if her goal was achieved and ask many questions such as;

Is her family happy with the new changes?

Was there any other way of going about it?

Is she happy?

Is it financially worth it?

Is the house cleaned?

Is there adequate food in the house?

Is there anything that can be changed to ensure a better well-being for her and her family?

The multiple roles and demands of family, work and other commitments need to be assisted with a range of management strategies in order to maintain sufficient well-being.

Government policies and workplace structures might influence the work roles of women. A government policy such as maternity leave may influence the work roles of a woman. Under the Industrial Relations Act 1996, maternity leave entitles a woman up to 52 weeks of leave from work before or after the pregnancy but is only paid if it is in her award or contract. Women may be influenced to start their career before starting a family as once they are in a secure job they will be able to take maternity leave. This shows how patterns of employment have changed over the last twenty years, as earlier; women have not gone into the line of work they wanted because of their duties of raising a family and juggling a career. There are many advantages and disadvantages of maternity leave. An advantage may be a woman can still have a career and start a family knowing they can take the time off work. A disadvantage of maternity leave is it is not always paid leave, so women who don’t have a husband to support them or not a high level of income may not be able to take maternity leave and have to return to work almost straight away. This policy supports diversity as in the past women had lack of power and once they were pregnant lost their job. Maternity leave enables women to take leave and still have their job once they return. Another government policy is the Baby Bonus. If a woman has a baby after July 1, she is entitled to $3000. This is a good influence for women to get back into work after having a child, or also they may choose to stay home because of the money they will be receiving from the government to look after their child. This policy supports diversity because families of low socioeconomic status have something they can depend on and if a woman is on maternity leave, she can also have this to rely on getting them through. Another advantage of the Baby Bonus is women on maternity leave or other family benefits are still entitled to the Baby Bonus because it is not income tested. The Baby Bonus and Maternity Leave give women choices, different opportunities and flexibility. Workplace structures also influence the work roles of women. a work structure that influences work roles of women is The Anti-Discrimination Act. The Anti-Discrimination Act is a federal legislation that makes sex discrimination against the law. This workplace structure eliminates discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status or pregnancy at work and eradicates sexual harassment at work. This influences the work role of women because they no longer have to feel lack of power whilst at work and have rights. Women feel safer at work because it is made against the law to be discriminated based on being female. The Anti-Discrimination Act supports diversity as it promotes equality between men and women in the workplace. Another workplace structure that influences the work roles of women is trade unions. Trade unions are representative organisations that campaign on behalf of their members to achieve the best possible working conditions. The benefits women will receive in being part of a trade union is the investigation of suspected breaches of award or underpayment of wages, health and safety and workers compensation issues, unfair dismissals- maybe due to pregnancy, redundancies, sexual harassment and discrimination claims, and superannuation and industrial disputes. A woman being part of a Trade Union may feel safer in her workplace and knows she has a voice and if any of these problems occur, something can be done about them. Trade Unions support diversity like all the other workplace structures as they allow women to feel safe in the workplace. These Government policies and workplace structures influence the work roles of women and show how patterns of employment have changed for women over the last twenty years.

[*] Australian Bureau of Statistics – Australian Social Trends

Family and Community – Family functioning: Balancing family and work

[†] Australian Bureau of Statistics – Australian Social Trends

Family and Community – Family functioning: Balancing family and work


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