Parents suffer poor work/life balance

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Forty-one per cent of the UK parents surveyed do extra hours all the time or often

Only a third (34%) of UK working parents go home on time every day, according to a study by Working Families and Bright Horizons.

The 2017 Modern Families Index surveyed 2,750 parents across the UK and found that 41% do extra hours in the evenings or weekends after they have gone home, all the time or often. This rises to more than 60% of parents in London.

Dealing with workload is the most common reason parents give for working extra hours (67%), followed by lack of time to get proper planning and thinking done (57%), the organisational culture (54%), and managers' attitudes (47%).

More than a third (36%) of parents said they would take a pay cut to work fewer hours, suggesting they are unhappy with their current arrangement. Half (50%) said their workload was a source of stress, and 37% felt resentful towards their employer as a result of their poor work/life balance.

Mubeen Bhutta, head of policy and communications for Working Familes, told HR magazine that employers need to reconsider how much they are expecting of their employees. “At its simplest, employers need to be designing human-sized jobs that fit in the hours allocated to them,” she said. “We know that the number one reason working parents are putting in extra hours is simply to get the job done. This isn’t sustainable.

“All employees with 26-weeks' service have the right to request flexible working but we need to make this meaningful – flexibility is of limited help if it just means the flexibility to work long hours at a time or place of your choosing. Technology can blur the boundaries between work and home life, but employers could set clear parameters around when they expect their people to be available.

“Stress at home can spill back over into workplace stress so this can be a vicious circle,” she added. “Longer working hours erode productivity – poor work/life balance is bad for business and bad for families.”

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