Work and family are two domains that are of major importance for many individuals. These domains could put high demands on the individual and when these demands are in conflict there is a risk for negative health consequences (Amstad et al., 2011). However, research has also shown that the multiple roles of work and family could be a source of satisfaction and well-being (McNall, Nicklin, & Masuda, 2010). A major challenge is thus to identify factors that contribute to lessen the potential conflicts between work and family. Control at work has been shown to enable employees to combine work and family (DiRenzo et al., 2011; Grzywacz & Butler, 2005), but it is not clear if control at work relates to the possibility to combine work and family in the same way for women and men on different levels of the occupational hierarchy. In a similar vein, control at home could be beneficial for the work-family balance (Lapierre & Allen, 2012). However, studies about control at home are few and it is not known if control at home relates to the possibility to combine work and family differently depending on such as gender and socioeconomic status.
The objectives of this study thus are:
- to investigate how gender and socioeconomic status are associated with work-family interference (WFI) and family-work interference (FWI)
- to investigate how control at work and control at home relate to WFI and FWI for women and men with different socioeconomic status.
Data from the Whitehall II study of British civil servants 1991-1993 (phase 3) and 1997-1999 (phase 5) were analyzed (Marmot & Brunner, 2005). This included 3484 (827 women and 2657 men) in three non-industrial employment grades (senior administrative, executive/professional and clerical/support) with mean age 46.65 (SD: 4.79; range 39-62) who had complete data for all variables in the present study.
Results: Women reported more WFI and more FWI than men. There was a gradient in WFI (employees with higher SES reported more WFI). The two-way interactions between gender and SES were significant for both WFI and FWI (see Figures).
Low control at work was associated with more WFI. Lower levels of control at home was associated with more WFI and more FWI. Non of the three-way interaction effects between gender, SES and control at work or control at home were significant.
Conclusions: Women, at least in the British Civil service, experienced more interference between work and family (in both directions) than men. Employees in high positions seem to have more difficulty combining work and family. This is especially true for women which might influence their career choices and health. The importance of control at home indicates that the home sphere has to be considered in further research and in the development of policies on work-family balance. Control at work and at home seem to relate to WFI or FWI in similar ways independently of gender and SES.