n South African Journal of Labour Relations - Workers with family responsibilities : a comparative analysis to advocate for the legal right to request flexible working arrangements in South Africa

Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0379-8410
  • E-ISSN: 2520-3223



Governments assist employees to varying degrees to combine work and family care. This support is provided in three main areas : state-supported childcare facilities, state subsidies for periods out of employment to provide care and lastly through the passing of legislation requiring employers to give employees time off for family care. This paper discusses the last area, namely legislation governing time off work for family care, more specifically an employee's legal right to request flexible working arrangements such as working from home, flexible working hours etc. Other provisions for time off for family care include leave provisions such as maternity and paternity leave. The inadequacy of these provisions in South African labour law is briefly discussed in the context of existing leave provisions in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. The focus of this paper, however, is on the legal right to request flexible working arrangements within a comparative analysis of existing law in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. No such right currently exists for South African employees. It is argued that there are policy considerations such as increased caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS that require greater state involvement in work-family policy, and in particular, it is argued that the legal right to request flexible working arrangements should be introduced in South Africa.

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