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Alexandra Heron

BA (Hons) Oxon
PhD Candidate
Phone
+61 2 8627 4460

Alexandra is a doctoral candidate in the Business School and Research Associate in its Women and Work Research Group. Her thesis topic is 'Organisational policies and employee eldercare responsibilities: the role of the line manager'. Alexandra is also an Associate Investigator on the Australian Research Council funded Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR).

She has a legal background, and has practised as a lawyer in East London and then as head of the Legal Department of one of the UK’s largest health unions. Subsequently she has worked in a range of research, policy and teaching positions in Australia, France and England. Her focus is on employment, discrimination and gender issues and the impact of caring responsibilities on women’s lives.

Her major publications include reporting on research she undertook on the range and impact of programmes in six OECD countries to assist migrant women workers with less than a tertiary education into employment. For an OECD/EU initiative, a comparative analysis of pregnancy discrimination laws in a number of European countries for the then UK Equal Opportunities Commission and co-authoring a practical legal guide to enforcing UK sex discrimination laws.

Most recently she has worked as a consultant on the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2014 Supporting Working Parents review which examined pregnancy and parental leave discrimination. She is also contributing to a similar enquiry by the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission. She has reviewed articles for Social Policy, the Journal of Cross Cultural Gerontology and the Journal of Industrial Relations.

Alex was awarded a Joe Isaac Travel Fellowship to attend the Isaac Industrial Relations Symposium in 2016 and was a recipient of the NSW National Council of Women Australia Day Awards 2017 for Australian women students of achievement.

Organisational policies and employee eldercare responsibilities: the role of the line manager

Alexandra’s thesis examines the interaction of government policy (on eldercare) with organisational policy in this area. The thesis also explores the role of line managers in mediating the relationship between government and organisation policy and employee needs. It asks how external and internal institutional and regulatory pressures and policies influence practice in organisations in relation to eldercarers' responsibilities.

This work is timely as there is currently little known about how, (and how effectively), organisations are responding to employee eldercare responsibilities in Australia. This is significant because the Australian population is ageing, which means the proportion of the population available to enter the labour force is reducing while the need for informal eldercare by older workers is increasing. Government responses urge and propel more women, carers and mature aged people to enter/remain in the workforce to meet labour force needs. It also prioritises supporting older people to age at home, to reduce government aged care costs. Informal unpaid care by family, (especially by women), is essential to this policy direction. In the face of these conflicting policy aims, government is now developing policies to encourage employers to assist worker-eldercarers. For example, in 2013 the federal Government extended the right to request flexible working arrangements (FWA) ('right to request') to all carers of adults.

Thus growing regulatory, demographic and normative pressures may result in employers facing more employees who need (and ask for) practical help to manage the potential work-eldercare conflict in their lives. This will confront employers with decisions likely to affect business operational requirements. The thesis will illuminate the impact of these care demands on employees and organisations.

Supervisors: Marian Baird, Leanne Cutcher