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Page last updated at 17:52 GMT, Monday, 30 January 2006

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Due to the high number of e-mails we get we cannot guarantee to publish every single message we receive, however the e-mails published will reflect the balance of opinion. We may also edit some e-mails for legal reasons and for purposes of clarity and length.

The views expressed on these pages are not necessarily the views of the BBC. The e-mails published will be reflective of the balance of opinion received.

I have found tonight's programme very informative especially hearing the views of the children on the long hours their parents have to work. It clearly does have an effect on the children as well as their parents.

It is very difficult going out to work early in the morning and coming home late at night when the children, when young, are asleep. They do miss both parents which makes life difficult and in some cases, as we saw, is very upsetting for both children and parents.

I think that in the future we will have to work a lot longer hours, which will unfortunately be to greater cost to family life than it is at present. Juggling both family life and working life is going to prove far more difficult for future generations.
Steve Fuller, Hove, East Sussex / England

Working is OK for basic living needs but your children should come first: you chose to have children so you should look after them.

Me and my husband have found it hard to survive on one wage but it is even harder when competing with a greedy society. We now share the work, children and chores.
Emma, Leigh, Essex

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the broadcast programme, I had been looking forward to the advertised Panorama which was hoping would help me to get rich quick. As I missed the introduction to tonight's episode was some explanation given to the advertised programmes lack of broadcast? Legal reasons maybe?

As for tonight's Panorama, I do hope the BBC will not think the subject matter was too personal. The reporter did a fantastic job! I often feel like a single parent although I am happily married but to a career civil servant whose working life is predicted by the demands of others (He's currently in Hungary on maneouvres!) Tongue in cheek reference as he works for the DTI not the military.

He would be the first to say that his work-life balance was not something he could prioritise without impacting on his career choices. Life has become easier since we first met purely on a financial front. Relationships do suffer when work/life balance is not maintained.
Tracey Earley, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

I totally agree that children are affected by both parents having to work longer hours. As a student teacher I worked almost around the clock and felt my daughter was a stranger being bought up by childminders. There is so much pressure to have to be a full-time working mum - stress is very high and often at boiling point by the time my husband gets home. Great programme - shame nothing will change as most employers don't care less as long as the job is done.
Kerry Trotman PGCE, Middlesex, England

What a fantastic insight in today's work, work, work, money, money UK world. No wonder those who can are seeking to leave the country.

The 30-somethings of today will work until they drop, pensions are being changed and raided, the cost of living is out of control, debt is the worst it has ever been and hours of work are the worst in the European Union. So much for the toothless working time directive. Just look at what today's kids think. We should be ashamed.

I should not worry though. Succesive government MPs of all colours will enjoy their big fat pensions, retire well before me, decide their own working hours and enjoy the odd drink at Westminster, not to mention those nice expense perks.

Get a life - Wish I could. Too busy trying to afford to pay my way for services I don't get and a state pension I'll never see, but that's life eh?
Jason Bates, Huddersfield, UK

It's all very well and good giving companies a flexible working directive, but at the end of the day they are not obliged to say yes. Despite technology advances and the fact that I could do all of the work I do in the office from home (apart from face-to-face meetings), there is still a reluctance from senior management to allow working from home. Because I commute, this would allow me three hours extra to spend with my daughter, simply cutting out the travelling time.
Jackie, Essex

Good programme, but like many discussions of work-life balance it is conflating two different social trends. One the one hand you have highly paid professionals (like Will Hutton and Ruth Lea) choosing to work long hours because they want to earn a vast amount of money, rather than merely a huge amount. On the other you have many people trapped in wretched jobs (like delivery drivers) forced to work longer hours simply to live and pay today's inflated housing costs.

Will Hutton, Ruth Lea and their like could afford to cut their work down to a fraction of what they do now (or retire altogether) and still have a very good standard of living. The wage slaves in call-centres and offices don't have this choice. Don't confuse greed with need.
Ed Richards, Woking, UK

After working full-time for 25 years, both as a two-parent and single-parent family, regarding work as a symbol of success and not being a parent I now feel that trying to juggle my different roles has changed the way in which I feel about choosing to do both .

Women wanted it all but now they've changed their minds. How do we reverse not only the need for two incomes but also the culture where women only have a sense of worth by working and being a mum not by just being a mum?
Sara Smith, Stourbridge, England

I have just watched the program 'Get a life' and would just like to make a comment on the program from a Swedish person's point of view. I have lived in Britain for three years now and fortunately I don't have any children yet, and wouldn't like to either in a country where my children's father would not be able to share the parental leave with me.

In Sweden parents have a total of 18 months per child in paid leave, and these months can be divided between the parents. This enables both parents to establish a close contact with their child during the first crucial period of a child┐s life. And I think that sharing the responsibility from the start when it comes to children and household shores will make sure that it's not only the woman's responsibility to look after the home and children when the children are growing up either.

So I feel that the issues in today's programme would look very different if it had been made in another country with a more modern view on parental responsibility.

I can see from my own workplace that the majority of the women return to work after six months maternity leave and I feel saddened when I think of how much of their children's life they will miss out on. And not to mention the fathers, who never had the chance to spend any time with their young children.

Britain is indeed 40 years behind some of the other European countries, and hopefully one day it will change.
Helena, Glasgow

This programme is a mind-boggling indulgence in gender bigotry.

Why is it implied that the relationship of a mother, with a child, is somehow more profound, meaningful, precious or important than that of a father with a child?

The progamme deploys an all too familiar and not particularly subtle strategy: relate an obvious wrong and another bias or agenda within that portrayal can usually be obfuscated.

Treating women at work this way is no worse than treating men at work this way. The issue is treating people this way.

This kind of bigotry is unacceptable, particularly in a public broadcast service.
Martyn Cox, Kintbury, UK

I missed the first three years of my son's life because I foolishly thought that working long hours and earning more and more money was important. This lifestyle eventually left me suffering stress and depression.

My previous employer subscribed to the European Working Time Directive, provided paternity leave and offered flexible working - yet still had employees with stress issues accross departments. The truth is most of us are not supermen or women and just are not capable of raising a family and working the hours demanded of us. Sadly high taxes and the general cost of living make it impossible for us mere mortals to pack it all in.

Your company can subscribe to every health-related directive around - but if you start arriving at nine and leaving promptly every day the chances are that any career you had will come to an abrupt halt.

We shouldn't be beating ourselves up over how much time we get to spend with the kids, we should be beating up big business over the chronic shortage of staff which is evident almost everywhere you go. If these companies employed enough people then it wouldn't be inconceivable that those employees would only have to work reasonable hours.

Naive? Almost certainly, after all what's the quality of an employee's life worth compared to another year of record profit?
Nigel Bamford, Whitley Bay UK

An interesting and well presented programme, but only from one angle. It was disappointing that time was not given to allow the employers to explain why the hours worked were necessary, and whether there was any option given to the long hours. As in many Panorama programmes, no effort was made to try to discuss or identify any answer to the problems raised, leaving the viewer with a strong feeling of frustration of having a problem, and no suggestion of a solution. It is easy to articulate a problem, and much more difficult to propose an answer.
Ron Steel, Edinburgh, UK

Those of us in reasonably paid jobs often have a choice to go part time, and perhaps do without some things. This is what I chose to do. It is not the same for those on low incomes struggling to pay their bills, or single parents who have no one to take over and help out.
Shelagh, Sussex, UK

Get a life
27 Jan 06 |  Panorama
Get a life
29 Jan 06 |  Panorama

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