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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 05:47 GMT
Fathers struggle with work balance
father and baby
Many dads would want to spend more time at home
Fathers are finding it hard to combine family and work obligations as they spend more time at the office working to provide for their children, according to a survey.

Research by the University of Hertfordshire showed a third of fathers spent more than 50 hours a week in the office, compared with a quarter of childless men and one in 20 childless women doing equivalent time.

British fathers are putting in such long hours at work that they are missing out on valuable time with their children

Dr Christine Cousins
Hectic work schedules meant eight out of 10 respondents had difficulty fulfilling family duties and household tasks.

According to the survey, which questioned 945 people aged between 18 and 64 years old, fathers said they worked long hours to provide for their children, but wanted to be more involved in their youngsters' lives.

Almost two-fifths said they would prefer to work fewer hours with two-thirds of these giving spending more time with their family as the reason.

Euro dads

Dr Christine Cousins, co-author of the report, said: "British fathers are putting in such long hours at work that they are missing out on valuable time with their children.

"It seems we could learn a thing or two from our west European cousins in the Netherlands and Sweden who have a more balanced home and work life."

WORKING DADS
40% want less hours
33% work 50 hours a week
80% cannot manage family chores
80% work late or weekends
The research, which is part of an EU study, showed fathers in Britain work longer hours than their European counterparts.

Four in 10 fathers work more than the 48 hours per week specified by the EU Working Time Directive, compared with two in 10 fathers in the Netherlands and in Sweden.

In the past decade the British working week has lengthened with eight out of 10 fathers working late at least once a week or at weekends, which compares with fewer than half of female respondents without children and two-thirds of childless men.

The survey is part of an EU framework project including eight participating countries in central, east and west Europe.

Do you feel you work too many hours that take you away from your children?

Your reaction

The word my son hears most from me is 'Goodbye'

Stuart Underwood, England
I do not think fathers are at all well looked after in the UK. I get two days fully paid paternity leave and will soon be able to take up to two more weeks off when I will be paid less than 100 a week. Help with childcare is means tested and all in all I have no choice but to work all the overtime I can to stop my family sinking deeper and deeper into debt. Having children is a huge financial burden. I would love to spend more time with my wife and son but I know this is never going to happen. The word my son hears most from me is "Goodbye".
Stuart Underwood, England

There is often a way to get more time but many men either don't want to, or aren't prepared to take the risk of finding another option. I gave up a well-paid job that demanded long hours for one that paid less closer to home.
Mike, UK

I will probably never make it as employee of the year and that my chances of reaching senior management have been dented, but there are some things that money can not buy and seeing your young child grow up and develop is one of them.
Adam, Scotland

Of course I want to work fewer hours and see more of my kids. I see my kids at bedtime during the week if I'm lucky. However, I need to work to earn money, and I'm terrified of losing my job. Any answers?
Steve Cahill, England

I used to be guilty of working too many hours, then the wife was rushed into hospital and my life changed. I realised what was important and now work 40 ish hours a week and spend time with my son. Material things can be bought later, my son growing up is once in a lifetime. Companies will only continue to harass the workforce into working long hours whilst the workforce lets them.
R How, UK

Husbands are sometimes unfairly accused of spending too little time with the wife/family. In fact it is harder for us to live two lives - one of the tension in the office and being the bread provider as well as being caring husbands and fathers when we return from work.
Davidd, Singapore


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