We'd all love a bit more flexibility in our lives and with child care shortages and the high costs associated with child care, flexible working arrangements are fast becoming a way of attempting to get around the work/child care juggle.
While the right to request employment flexibility has been in place for a few years, new legislation came into effect from July 1 to widen the eligibility to include victims of domestic violence, all carers, people who have a disability and people aged 55 and over.
Australia is one of the pioneers in workplace flexibility legislation, however, despite the open forum for requesting flexibility, many employees feel stigmatized as soon as they do.
This stigma has been coined "Flexibility Stigma" by Professor Joan C. Williams, founding director of the Center for Work-Life Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She says, referring to the array of flexible work arrangements some employers offer, that: "Many times these policies are on the books, but informally everyone knows you are penalized for using them".
Williams says she invented the term 'flexibility stigma' to describe that phenomenon. Recent studies have found that it is alive and well, and it functions quite differently for women than it does for men. No surprise there.