Work, Life and Flexibility Project

A study of flexibilities that enable workforce participation and skill development and use, and their implications for work-life outcomes in Australia

Chief Investigator: Professor Barbara Pocock
Project Manager: Dr Natalie Skinner, Senior Research Fellow
Grant: 2011-2015 Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage project
Grant partners: SafeWork SA and Department of Employment .

Study Work Life balance

This ARC Linkage project is examining how improved flexibility, at a time of historic change in the regulation of work in Australia, can assist the reconciliation of work and caring responsibilities, higher levels of employment participation and increasing skill development and utilisation and thus improve the well-being of Australian workers and their families.

The study will provide nationally representative measures of work-life outcomes in 2012 and 2014, extending analysis of the Australian Work and Life Index AWALI) over an 8 year period (2006-2014) in relation to a wide range of demographic, workplace and household characteristics. Applying multiple methods and creating new research capacity, it will analyse diverse forms of flexibility that suit different kinds of care responsibilities (children, aged, disabled) over the life-cycle, assessing how these different forms of flexibility affect work/life outcomes, thus contributing to policy, theory and action.

This study will explore how higher labour force participation, better skill development and utilisation, and improved reconciliation of work and other activities, including care, are facilitated by improved flexibility through two types of 'flexibility':

  • 'cross-workforce' flexibility enablers, such as new national legal rights to request flexibility and new national leave entitlements;
  • 'within-workplace' flexibility enablers such as supportive workplace supervision and cultures, the opportunity to work from home, flexible start and finish times and so on.

Project Progress

AWALI data collection was completed in March 2012, with data processing commencing from April. AWALI 2012 is the largest of the AWALI surveys to date, collecting data across a range of topics including flexibility (evaluating the impact of the Fair Work Australia Act), paid parental leave, work intensity, productivity, telecommuting, size of workplace and workers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.


AWALI 2012 reports

AWALI 2012 National Report The Big Squeeze: Work, home and care in 2012

Full Report Executive Summary Appendix

Work-Life balance in South Australia AWALI 2012 Report

Full Report Appendix

A majority of survey respondents indicated a willingness to be interviewed again in 2014 for a longitudinal data analysis on flexibility and for qualitative interviews on flexibility.

A complementary research project is being funded by Fair Work Australia (2011-2014) which includes qualitative interviews with employees and employers on employers' and employees' experiences of flexibility requests, the impact of flexibility on labour force participation, retention, productivity and work-life outcomes.

Areas of study and research

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