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Abstract from

Contracting for Work / Life Balance

Joellen Riley is a Senior Lecturer in the Law School, University of Sydney.

The contemporary workplace relations reform rhetoric promotes indi­vidual bargaining as the most efficient means of serving the interests of both employers and workers. Individual bargaining focuses on the employment relationship as a contract. This chapter examines the extent to which contract law is a suitable regulatory tool for promo­ting a livable balance between work and family. While there is some potential for commitments in Human Resources Management policies to ‘work/life balance’ to become contractually binding obligations, the conception of contract as a static bargain has limited this potential. A relational theory of the employment relationship, however, promises greater potential by implying an obligation that employers should act reasonably and in good faith in negotiating solutions to accommodate family responsibilities. Nevertheless there are well recognised weak­nesses in relying solely on any kind of self-regulatory contract model for promotion of these commitments.

(2005) Volume 23 No 1 Law in Context 182

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