Men on the sidelines: the reconciliation of work and family life agenda in the context of cross-border posting

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The European Commission estimates that one million workers are posted in the EU each year. Such workers are sent abroad temporarily as part of a cross-border provision of services by their employer. The male-dominated construction sector accounts for a significant proportion (25%) of the posting that takes place in the EU. Taking the construction industry as an example, this paper examines the difficulties experienced by posted workers seeking to enforce employment related rights, for example as regards to pay and to maintain family connections across borders. This focused analysis serves as a case study for articulation of a broader argument relating to the inaccessibility of EU policies on reconciling work and family life to many male workers. In drawing out the dichotomy between the emphasis on policies to assist with the reconciliation of work and family life (usually directed at women), and the inability of the (predominantly male) workers under consideration to achieve any meaningful experience of family life during the posting experience, the paper aims to highlight how the EU reconciliation agenda continues to primarily target women as its 'beneficiaries'. The antipathy of reconciliation law and policy towards men seriously undermines the effectiveness of the measures for both men and women alike.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-408
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • construction workers
  • Cross-border posting of workers in the European Union
  • gender equality
  • reconciliation of work and family life

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