Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business


Adult and Continuing Education

First Advisor

Dr. Margaret Linehan


This study assesses the emergence of family friendly / work life balance arrangements within Irish organisations in view of changing conditions on the labour market, particularly with the increased participation of women. It incorporates the experiences, opinions and commentaries of both Human Resource representatives responsible for the implementation of such practices, and employees availing of them in a broad spectrum of public and private sector organisations.

This research addresses the perceived explicit and implicit barriers, such as organisational size, location and culture which challenge employers and employees in terms of alternative working arrangements. It illustrates the significance of introducing and implementing flexible arrangements in a structured fashion with employer and employee contributions and highlights the influential role of the supervisor / manager in the transfer of such arrangements into actual working practices.

The findings illustrate the gendered nature of family friendly / work- life balance initiatives, being predominantly practiced by female employees with caring responsibilities. The research explores the influences of societal norms where women are seen as primary carers, and the perceived fear of negative career consequences attached to such working practices, to explain this gender imbalance. The research also addresses the significance of ones role within the organisation when accessing flexible working options and considers the varied organisational attitudes to facilitating alternative working at all levels.

In the context of a changing labour market, this research investigates the benefits and limitations of family friendly / work life balance practices from an employee and employer perspective.

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