A history of work-family reconciliation: strategies and solutions in relation to elderly care.

This placement, in the School of Law, will involve researching legal engagement with work-family reconciliation strategies relating to elderly care-giving. The research will contribute to a broader project which will culminate in a monograph that critiques the development of work-family reconciliation laws in the UK, the EU and Internationally as well as the framing of debates in other developed countries (particularly, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada).

Department: None

Supervised by: Dr Grace James

The Placement Project

Families in market economies worldwide have long been confronted by the demands of participating in paid work and providing care for their ‘dependent’ members. The work-family debate will never be resolved completely because economic, demographic and attitudinal changes impact upon priorities at any one point. However, what matters is how the debates for “solutions” - no matter how incomplete and specific to times and places in history those solutions will be – are framed - and this is at the heart of the research project as a whole. The main output for this research project will be a monograph - A history of work-family reconciliation: strains, stereotypes, strategies and solutions (co-authored with Nicole Busby, Strathclyde University). The book will be structured in a thematic way, considering common values that have (to differing degrees) underpinned employment law’s engagement with work-family reconciliation: female employment; fatherhood; children’s well-being; elderly care; health and safety; improving flexibility and choice. The final book will be submitted to the publisher in December 2014. The placement student will undertake research that will feed directly into this larger project, working with the PI on a discreet aspect: the development of employment rights in relation to elderly care. There is very little joined up / comparative analysis of how a families need to care for elderly dependents (a growing concern in many developed countries) is regulated (or not) by employment laws. This placement offers an exciting opportunity to contribute to a major and original piece of research.


The main tasks are summarised below: 1. Research, using on-line resources, the aims, scope and nature of employment law policies/rights/protections available to workers with elderly dependents in a number of jurisdictions: • The US • Australia • New Zealand • Canada 2. Collate and catalogue findings, with full references, in a format that allows simple comparisons to be made – e.g. mention in policy rhetoric / extent of leave entitlement / eligibility for entitlements / payments etc. 3. Review relevant academic literature (in law or social policy publications) and reports relating to work-family reconciliation and elderly care in relation to the countries assessed (see above). 4. Provide a summary of the scope of sources (databases/on-line searches) researched for (3) and brief resumés of any readings (1 page max per publication) undertaken.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

The following skills and knowledge are required by the student at the start of the placement. Essential 1. An ability to locate, collate and organise research material from a variety of sources. 2. Good IT skills – especially re: on-line research. 3. An ability to critique and catalogue information in an accessible and well referenced manner. Desirable 1. An interest in socio-legal research as an academic discipline, particularly relating to employment law.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

As a result of the project the placement student will develop an understanding of the research process – invaluable for any student planning to undertake a large research project in the future (e.g. a final year dissertation). S/he will develop skills needed to undertake a thorough literature review, to uncover, collate and assess primary legal material (legislation) and policy documents and to undertake comparative research (in relation to a discreet issue). Whilst authorship in relation to the book will remain with the PI, there may be an opportunity to contribute to an article in relation to elderly care and the work-family reconciliation agenda.

Place of Work

School of Law, University of Reading

Hours of Work

Monday -Friday 9am-5pm

Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 01 July 2013 - Friday 09 August 2013

How to Apply

students should apply via email to, with a CV and covering letter. Suitable applicants will be invited for interview with the PI and another member of Law School staff.

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