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Control over work hours ranks more important than maternity leave

In the daily struggle for work life balance, what's more important to you....paid maternity or paternity leave or control over your work hours?

An Australian survey of 1,700 mothers has found that working women rate control over work hours as the most important work life benefit. The survey found paid maternity leave, employer-provided or subsidized childcare, and being able to bring your child to work were appreciated, but not rated as highly.

I couldn't agree more. As our kids enter different stages, their school hours change. Having control over our hours makes a HUGE difference in being able to get them where they need to go -- on time. I would take control over my work hours above ANY other work/life benefit.  I'm pretty certain if researchers conducted the same survey in the United States, they'd find similar results.

Janeen Baxter, a professor of sociology at the University of Queensland, and the co-author of the study Perceptions of Work/Life Balance, has her theory on why this is: "Benefits such as paid maternity leave are most relevant to women with small children. Whereas shorter hours and flexible start and finish times are relevant to all workers in different stages of life."

"For some part-time work is a desirable arrangement but the key issue is to have control over the length of the working week and the work hours," Baxter stated.

The survey found that having access to family-friendly provisions improved workers' experience of the daily work-life juggle, even when they did not use the entitlements.

How do you feel about these results? Would you rather have on-site childcare or control over your work hours? Which do you think most employers believe we rank as our top choice?