An Australian survey has pointed out that if women were given a choice of what makes them happier - control over work hours or paid maternity leave, they rated the former higher as it promoted better work-life balance.
The survey of 1700 childcare workers and dental assistants found that having the ability to reduce or vary work hours, and to control start and finishing times, were particularly important entitlements.
"The most important entitlements are about hours," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Janeen Baxter, a professor of sociology at the University of Queensland, and the co-author of the study Perceptions of Work/Life Balance, as saying.
Paid maternity leave, employer-provided or subsidised childcare, and being able to bring your child to work were appreciated, but not rated as highly.
Professor Baxter said most of the women surveyed did not have small children.
"Benefits such as paid maternity leave are most relevant to women with small children," she explained.
"Whereas shorter hours and flexible start and finish times are relevant to all workers in different stages of life.
"Having regular and reasonable hours is the key.
"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," she 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.