Flexible Working in the UK and its Impact on Couples' Time Coordination
Review of Economics of the Household
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The ability to combine work with quality time together as a family is at the heart of the concept of work-life balance. Using previously unexploited data on couples’ work schedules we investigate the effect of flexible working on couples’ coordination of their daily work schedules in the UK. We consider three distinct dimensions of flexible working: flexibility of daily start and finish times (flexitime), flexibility of work times over the year (annualized hours), and generalized control of working hours. We show that having flexitime at work increases a couple’s amount of coordination of their daily work schedules by a half to 1 h, which is double the margin of adjustment enjoyed by couples with no flexitime. The impact is driven by couples with children. In contrast to flexitime, the other two forms of flexible working do not seem to increase synchronous time. Our results suggest that having flexitime plays an important role in relaxing the work scheduling constraints faced by families with young children, and that effective flexible working time arrangements are those that increase the worker’s and not the employer’s flexibility.