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Employment relations and employer behaviour

Research areas:

  • Work-life balance
  • Working time
  • Recruitment and retention
  • Flexible working practices

Understanding the nature of the labour market as it relates to employer and employment relations and the economic effects of changing labour market practices on employers have been consistent themes within IER research. Work in this area has included analysis of the impact of changes in legislation, policy and practice at national and European level and examination of policy drivers and policy implications for employers. IER studies have evaluated the impact of working time on productivity, competitiveness and the quality of working life, the impacts of the current recession on employment in different equality groups, and issues of flexibility in employment, such as work patterns, part time employment, pregnancy discrimination and the impacts of these on gender equality. IER conducted the UK’s first work-life balance survey of employers and employees, examining the extent to which employers operated work-life balance practices and whether employees felt existing practices met their needs.

Improving labour market equity and, more specifically, promoting a work-life balance agenda have been key focal points behind the introduction of various legislation at both national and European level since the early 1990s. IER undertook the UK’s first baseline survey of work-life balance in 2000 which assessed the extent to which employers operated work-life balance practices and employees’ perceptions of these practices and whether they met their needs. A more recent IER review, commissioned by the UK Department for Children Schools and Families’ Beyond Current Horizons project, explored the regulatory environment for work-life balance, the incidence of work-life balance since the introduction of UK and EU legislation, and the future for the work-life balance agenda.

The introduction of the Working Time Regulations, and subsequently the European Working Time Directive, has done much to change the relationship between employers and employees in terms of demands for and expectations of working long hours, in some instances on a sustained basis. IER carried out research designed to understand the relationship between the business need for long hours working and the perceptions of employers in terms of the benefits and costs of using sustained long hours as an employment practice, and the effect this has on employment relations. A recent study on quality part-time work.

IER has undertaken significant work into the impact on the labour market of: investment in skills and training; the recruitment practices; information shortcuts; and collective measures. Our researchers have also evaluated the means used by employers to communicate employment opportunities, and how these have changed in relation to formal and informal methods, and the information shortcuts used by employers in selecting people for employment.

 Selected publications

  • Lyonette, C. (2012) The sexual division of labour. In: Evans, M. and Williams, C. eds. Gender: the Key Concepts. Oxfordshire: Taylor and Francis.
  • Hogarth, T., Gambin, L., Winterbotham, M., Baldauf, B., Briscoe, G., Gunstone, B., Hasluck, C., Koerbitz, C. and Taylor, C. (2012). Employer Investment in Apprenticeships and Workplace Learning: The Fifth Net Benefits of Training to Employers Study. London: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. (BIS Research Paper Number 67).
  • Lyonette, C., Kaufman, G. and Crompton, R. (2011). “We both need to work”: maternal employment, childcare and healthcare in Britain and the U.S. Work, Employment and Society, 25(1), pp. 34 - 50.
  • Lyonette, C. (2011). Atypical working in Europe and the impact on work-family reconciliation. In: Busby, N. and James, G., eds., Families, care-giving and paid work: challenging labour law in the 21st century. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 31 - 51.
  • Lyonette, C., Baldauf, B. and Behle, H. (2010). "Quality" part-time work: a review of the evidence. London: Government Equalities Office.
  • Lyonette, C. and Clark, M. (2009). Unsocial hours: unsocial families? Working time and family wellbeing. An overview of the literature relating to atypical work and family wellbeing.
  • Hogarth, T. and Bosworth, D. (2009). Future horizons for work-life balance, Beyond Current Horizons. London: DCSF/Futurelab.
  • Hasluck, C., Hogarth, T., Baldauf, B., and Briscoe, G. (2008). The Net Benefit to Employer Investment in Apprenticeship Training, A Report for the Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network. Coventry: Warwick Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick.
  • Hogarth, T. and Devins, D. (2005). Employing the Unemployed: some case study evidence on the role and practice of employers, Urban Studies 42(2), pp. 245 - 256.
  • Hogarth, T., Daniel, W.W., Dickerson, A.P., Campbell, D., Wintherbotham, M., and Vivian, D. (2003). The Business Context to Long Hours Working. London: Department for Trade and Industry.
  • Hogarth, T., Hasluck, C. and Pierre, G. with Winterbotham, M. and Vivian, D. (2001). Work-Life Balance 2000: Results from the Baseline Study. London: Department for Education and Employment. (DfEE Research Report RR249).

Further publications can be accessed from the IER publication pages.

Selected projects

  • The presence, composition and function of Joint Consultative Committees, Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (2013-2014) More Details

  • Employer Investment in Apprenticeships and Work-Based Learning, Skills Funding Agency (2011 - 2012) More Details
  • Working Time Arrangements and Work-Life Balance, ILO (via University of Manchester) (2011) More Details
  • Surveying Employment Practices of Multinationals in Comparative Context: Integrating and Differentiating National Systems, ESRC (2009 - 2011) More Details
  • Economic and social benefit of vocational, education training and analysis of skills mismatch, CEDEFOP (2010 - 2011) More Details
  • Improving Understanding of "Quality" Part-time Work: Definitions and What works, Government Equalities Office (2009 - 2010) More Details
  • The Equality Impacts of the Current Recession, Equality and Human Rights Commission (2009) More Details
  • Collective Measures Project, UKCES via Institute for Employment Studies (2008 - 2009)
  • The Net Benefit to Employer Investment in Apprenticeship Training, Ambassadors Apprenticeship Network via Learning and Skills Council National Office (2008 - 2008) More Details
  • Exploring Local Labour Market Failures and the Use of Information Shortcuts by Employers in Recruitment Decisions, Department for Work and Pensions via Leeds Metropolitan University (2007 - 2008)
  • The Impact of Placements on Businesses in the South West of England: A Longitudinal Study Alongside the Graduates for Business Project, South West Regional Development Agency (2007 - 2009) More Details
  • Economic Impact of Pregnancy Discrimination in London, Greater London Authority (2007 - 2008)

Key contacts

Clare Lyonette