Worksharing in the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment in promoting equality of opportunity

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McDonnell, Orla
Issue Date
MA Human Resource Management
Dublin Business School
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This research study is an investigation into the equality of opportunity provided by work-sharing in a selected governmental department in the Irish Civil Service. The overall goal of the study is to seek to discover the effectiveness of work-sharing arrangements in the selected department in promoting equality of opportunity, as perceived by current work-sharers and management. The study's aims and objectives were investigated using three methods of data collection. First, a critical review of the relevant literature was carried out. Second, two semi-standardised postal questionnaires were distributed; one to work-sharers and one to management. Finally, an unstructured interview was conducted before the distribution of the surveys and then a semi-structured interview was conducted once the findings of the surveys had been analysed. The typical work-sharer profile to emerge from the gathered information is a married woman with dependants, found in the middle of the organisational hierarchy, and who work-shares for childcare reasons. Work-sharers in the department do not suffer from negative perceptions towards conventional part-time work to the same degree as subjects in previous studies. They are committed to their jobs and their level of commitment is recognised by management. Management has become more supportive of flexible working practices in this department over the years and the work-sharers and most of management are satisfied with and fully support the Work-Sharing Scheme. The traditional 'work-sharing partnership arrangement' has lost popularity amongst the department's work-sharers. However, some managers and work-sharers still view it as viable work pattern that can be still effective for both the work-sharer and the department. Although most managers support equal opportunities for work-sharers regarding their career progression, a glass-ceiling does seem to operate for work-sharers in the department. Introduced in response to legal imperatives and employee demand, the Work -Sharing Scheme lacks full managerial commitment towards promoting equality of opportunity in this department. A culture of full-time work appears to be still favoured. If work-sharing is ever to realise its full potential as an equal opportunities measure, the researcher suggests that it needs to be absorbed into the 'core', day-to-day operations of the department. Otherwise work-sharing will continue to be regarded only as a measure towards furthering the employment participation of married women with domestic responsibilities and will never address the wider agenda of promoting equality of opportunity in the workplace for both men and women.