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If the workplace of today could be characterized by a single theme it would most likely focus on the continual presence of change Dramatic changes in technology the marketplace and the workforce have compelled organizations to re-evaluate not only the competitiveness of their products but also the core ways in which work is performed It is out of this pursuit for continued survival that organizations have been faced with the notion of varying work-schedules beyond the traditional hours of nine to five This paper will explore the societal and business changes that have led to a proliferation in flexible work patterns This paper will also address the benefits and disadvantages of flexible work patterns for both employees and employers Demographic trends affecting the Australian labour pool have resulted in considerable workforce changes The single most important change is the mass entry of women into the workforce especially married women with children Spurred initially by equal opportunity legislation affirmative action and the womens movement the growth in womens workforce participation has been sustained by increased education a desire for personal fulfilment economic necessity and the high rate of divorce The percentage of women in the workforce has increased from 50 percent in the 1970s to 75 percent in 1998 Sixty-two percent of mothers with children under the age of six are employed while 75 percent of mothers with children between the ages of six and seventeen are employed Concurrently new family structures have emerged as the traditional nuclear family single-earner husband homemaker wife and children has declined to minority status The nuclear family description fits only ten percent of working households today Nearly half of all workers are now members of dual-earner families and single-parent families are the fastest growing segment of the workforce Fewer men have the support of a full-time homemaker wife who can both shield them from family-related work and enable them to direct energies exclusively toward a career These figures demonstrate significant
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