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A Right to Care? Unpaid Care Work in European Employment Law

Busby, Nicole (2011) A Right to Care? Unpaid Care Work in European Employment Law. Oxford Monographs on Labour Law . Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199579020

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Abstract

The reconciliation of unpaid care and paid work is arguably the most pressing and difficult problem currently facing employment law. In all of its forms, unpaid care is predominantly provided by women so that its intersection with paid work is severely gendered. In recent years, European integration has focused on increasing employment rates whilst maintaining labour market flexibility. Many workers who seek to combine unpaid care with paid employment find themselves engaged in increasingly precarious forms of work, yet legal and policy responses have, to date, been reactive and incremental resulting in a framework which is operationally ineffective in certain respects. This book aims to explore the potential for the development of a specific right to care within European employment law which would facilitate the reconciliation of these two central aspects of an individual's life and assist in the rebalancing of paid and unpaid work between men and women. The central premise is that the current constitutional and regulatory framework is sufficiently flexible to take account of the diverse circumstances and resulting needs of working carers and that the European Court of Justice has the competence and capability to provide the necessary creativity to give effect to such a right. What is needed to instil coherence and consistency is a specific focus on the caring rights of employees.