Name: Ruksar Sattar
Thesis Title: Putting the Welfare of the Child at the Heart of the Reconciliation of Work and Family Life Principle: A Role for Grandparents?
Parents in market economies worldwide have long been confronted by the demands of participating in paid work and providing care for their dependents. Despite the introduction of the reconciliation principle under which a dynamic set of policies and legal provisions have been developed focusing on the tension inherent in juggling work and family responsibilities, a number of British working families even today struggle to meet the demands of balancing paid work with their unpaid work of childcare, which in turn impacts the welfare of children. As a result, an increasing number of working parents rely heavily on grandparents for the provision of informal childcare.
In preparation for this study, my LLM dissertation argued that there is a lack of consideration for the welfare of children within the reconciliation discourse. In doing so, and concurring with Grace James’ work, I demonstrated that nowhere within the reconciliation policies and measures has the well-being of children, ‘either as autonomous and deserving members of the [society] ... in their own right or because their lives are implicated by [the] measures being adopted’, been explicitly acknowledged as a vital consideration (James 2011, p 364). Moreover, I contended that the Court of Justice of the European Union has, instead, reached decisions which not only disregarded but, potentially, can be of detriment to the very welfare of children.
Following on from my LLM dissertation, this research will largely focuses on how to address the disregard for the welfare of children within the reconciliation discourse. It will distinctively propose that one of the possible ways to do so is through the regulation of the role of grandparents of which, according to Eurochild, 63% are providing care to their grandchildren in the United Kingdom (Eurochild 2013). Grandparents are not only providing full-time care to their grandchildren following a crisis or family breakdown but, nowadays, they are also directly facilitating reconciliation by providing informal care to their grandchildren. Such care may either take the form of occasional childcare when the need arises, or be more structured, through the provision of regular childcare.
Fundamental to this research is the need to emphasise the importance of children in the development of the reconciliation policies and measures. This is because, contrary to what appears to be the view that children are objects and obstacles to participation in the labour market, this research will argue that children are not only the future of the economy but they are also ‘subjects in their own right with their own needs and expectations’ (McGlynn 2005, p 223). As a result, it is vital for the welfare of children to become a part of relevant employment law dialogues. In order to do so, given that the provision of informal childcare by grandparents not only allows the state to explore different avenues to look at the topical issue of childcare but it also allows intergenerational learning which contributes to the emotional, social, and cognitive development of children, this research will urge policymakers to do more to recognise and support the vital contributions of grandparents to the social and economic well-being of the state, which will in turn promote the welfare of children.
In doing so, this research aims to explore the possibility to establish a normative framework through the extension of the existing leave and time provisions to, and the introduction of new childcare provisions geared towards, grandparents. To do so, this research will combine the traditional doctrinal approach with the developing socio-legal approach. The research will be conducted using the university’s library and online databases.
This research has the potential to enhance social and economic well-being across all sections of society. It has the potential of having not only a conceptual impact contributing to the understanding of policy issues and furthering debates but also an instrumental impact influencing the development of policy and altering legislation. The research, in promoting the well-being of children, could be of high interest to children’s charities and to the European Commission. This study could potentially be disseminated through the Families and Work Network (funded by the AHRC), of which I am a member.
Supervisors and Institution(s):
Dr Eugenia Caracciolo di Torella (University of Leicester)
Ms Pascale Lorber (University of Leicester)
- 'Child Welfare at the Heart of Work-Life Balance: A Role for Grandparents?' (2017) 4 Frontier Postgraduate Research Magazine 8-10.
'The Applicability of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 to Software Transactions and the Suitability of the Relevant Existing English Legal Concepts' (2014) 1 The Student Law Review 72-81. In 2014, my 5,000 words assignment written during the first term of my master's degree was selected to be published in a national, peer-reviewed, academic journal. The Student Law Review features a high quality critical commentary and empirical research on legal topics by undergraduate and postgraduate law students.
Teaching / Research Assistant / Placements:
- October 2017 - July 2018: I worked as a part-time Family Law Tutor at the University of Leicester where I was required to: prepare and present tutorials, undertake marking of the assignments, and provide out-of-class academic support to students.
- November 2017 - February 2018: I undertook a three months full-time placement funded by M3C DTP as a Research Intern at Grandparents Plus. I put together a policy paper proposing the extension of the right to statutory adoption leave and pay to kinship carers who take on the caring role for children in difficult family circumstances.
- April - September 2016: I worked as a Research Assistant at the Law School of the University of Leicester where I was required to: search for case law and articles, produce case law summaries, copy materials, collate materials into files and email attachments, and proof read documents.
- January - August 2015: I worked as a part-time Lecturer in Computer Law at De Montfort University where I was required to: prepare and present tutorials to first year computer law students, act as a co-module leader by providing students with all the relevant materials, undertake marking of the assignments and write feedback reports, and provide out-of-class academic support to students to clear any doubts.
Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:
- June: I was part of a successful CDF bid titled 'Child Rights Week' and which consisted of two events: ‘Child Rights Week 2018: The Right to Shelter’ and ‘Children, Rights and Childhood: Expo and Launch Event 2018’. The events took place between the 18th and 22nd of June 2018 in Birmingham. The initiative cultivated relationships between local schools, surrounding communities, local councils and key child rights organisations in the Midlands, to promote children's rights within the school environment. Apart from helping to organise this event, I also submitted my poster to be presented during the event on the 22nd of June at The Suites, Birmingham Repertory Theatre.
- July: I attended the 'Compassion: Child and Family Law' Symposium.
- June: I attended the University of Leicester Research Festival and presented my thesis through a Poster Presentation.
I attended the M3C Research Festival and presented my thesis through a Poster Presentation.
I was part of a successful CDF bid under which an inter-disciplinary postgraduate conference titled 'Human Rights Challenges in the 21st Century' was organised. The conference engaged with contemporary challenges for human rights, with presentations from a range of postgraduate researchers to showcase how their research links to human rights. Through six panels, the conference highlighted the areas that deal with and are affected by challenges facing the promotion and protection of the rights of all globally.
- April: I attended the Socio-Legal Studies Associations' (SLSA) annual conference at the Newcastle University between 5-7th of April. I took part in the children's rights stream and presented my research to a specialised audience in a 30 minutes slot. I also took part in the conference through a poster presentation on my research. I was able to participate in this prestigious conference as a result of a successful SDF application. This featured in the Leicester Law School's News Page.
- September: I became a member of the Gender and Sexuality Research Network, an interdisciplinary research group focusing on gender studies based at the University of Reading. The network aims to provide a supportive and collaborative space for those whose work or interests include aspects of gender and sexuality to share ideas and stimulate discussion across disciplines. It welcomes academics and students from any department who would like to get involved. Meetings involve a twenty minute paper given by either a graduate student or a lecturer. Afterwards there is a discussion in which everybody can get involved.
I organised a research seminar on behalf of the Law and Theory research cluster at the University of Leicester. The seminar entailed a small panel of PhD students talking about the theoretical aspects of their work in a 20 minutes slot. My presentation focused particularly on the public/private dichotomy and the ethic of care theory.
I attended and presented my thesis in a 20 minutes slot at the Leicester Law School's Graduate Research Conference. My presentation consisted of a short overview of my research project. I explained my central research questions, the methodologies I am using and tried to explain the significance of my research. In the last 5 minutes, I answered questions about my project.
- May: I attended the M3C Research Festival and presented my thesis in a 5 minutes slot during the Research Relay. My presentation consisted of a short overview of my research project.
- April: I attended a seminar on 'Brexit and its Potential Implications for the United Kingdom' at the University of Leicester. The seminar was a collaboration between the European Law and Policy Research Cluster and the Centre for European Law and Internationalisation (CELI). The seminar covered some important areas of employment law, of which the impact of Brexit on labour law's family-friendly rights was of interest to me.
I attended Daniel Barnett's Employment Law Masterclass 2016 in London. I was able to attend the session by volunteering to assist throughout the day. The class covered some important updates in the area of employment law, of which 'gender pay reporting' was of interest to me.
I became a member of the Law and Theory Research Cluster, an organisation that considers all aspects of theory underlying law, the legal system and justice. It aims to provide a supportive atmosphere in which academics may present research findings, explore ideas for further research, develop funding applications and work together. The network circulates legal developments of common interest and supports each other in commenting on work in progress. Presentations are also made by invited external speakers.
I became a member of the European Law and Policy Research Cluster, an organisation that provides a forum for discussion groups, organises research seminars, contributes to international research networks, actively seeks and attracts research funding, supports and integrates the research of academics and postgraduate students in the Leicester Law School, and hosts international academic visitors.
I became a member of the Socio-Legal Studies Research Cluster, an organisation that provides a setting for researchers to explore and discuss their research in the field of socio-legal studies at the University of Leicester.
I became a member of the Centre for European Law and Internationalisation (CELI), an organisation that brings together researchers with an interest in the fields of all aspects of European law in the widest sense and in trends of internationalisation. It promotes academic research (including postgraduate research), holds seminars and conferences, and receives visitors wishing to conduct research in this area.
I started volunteering at Carers UK as an Insight Volunteer looking to be part of a community of carers. Amongst other things, the role entails looking at documents, resources, and new ideas about developing support and this is what I am most interested in.
- February: I became a member of the Society of Legal Scholars (SLS), a learned society whose aim is the advancement of legal education and scholarship in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The Society is the learned society for those engaged in law teaching and/or legal scholarship. The Society is legal education's principal representative body to the professional bodies and the Government. The SLS holds an annual conference each year, usually at the University of the President. In addition, the Society organises and/or sponsors seminars and workshops throughout the year.
- January: I became a member of the Oxford Children's Rights Network (OCRN), an organisation consisting of a group of researchers, students, and practitioners primarily based in Oxford, England, working on a broad range of issues related to children’s rights. The network created this platform in order to share information, exchange ideas, and collaborate on research broadly within the UK and Europe.
- December: I attended a conference on 'current reflections on EU gender equality law' led by the Academy of European Law (ERA) in Trier, Germany. Since 2009, ERA has organised an annual series of seminars devoted to the EU Law on Equality between Women and Men. These series are run in the framework of the ‘Progress’ Programme, on behalf of and in cooperation with the European Commission.
- November: I became a member of the Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA), an organisation which aims to: run annual socio-legal conferences, publish a research directory, support students through postgraduate conferences, disseminate information about socio-legal courses, liaise with policymakers and funders in order to represent the views and interests of the socio-legal community, and adopt a code of practice for the ethical conduct of research.
- April: I took part in a conference led by the European Working Group on Labour Law (EWL) at the University of Leicester. The theme of the conference was reconciling work and family life, which is my area of research. In a group of four, we prepared a detailed national report on the law governing this area and presented it to students and academics from five other European universities.
- December: I became a member of the Families and Work Network (FAWN), an organisation consisting of a group of people aiming to explore the law’s engagement with the reconciliation of work and family life principle.
Other Research Interests:
- Child Law
- Family Law
- Comparative Law
- Gender Equality Law