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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 January 2006, 00:32 GMT
Many parents 'taking work home'
Mother and child at computer
Many parents struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance
Some 35% of parents in the UK take work home with them at least once a week, while 13% do it every day, a survey of children suggests.

In an ICM poll for BBC One's Panorama, 500 children aged 11 to 16 were asked about their parents' working lives.

It found 35% thought their parents were "stressed out" and many children would like to spend more time with them.

The programme used the poll to examine the issue of parents' work-life balance and how technology has impacted on it.

According to the poll, 83% of children believe mothers with children aged three and under should not work full-time.

One third said they would like to spend more time with their father, while 20% said they wanted more time with their mother.

It also found 71% of children with both parents working said their mother still did most of the household chores.

High expectations

It also revealed 31% of children expect to work longer hours in the future than their parent who works the most, and 51% believe earning a lot of money is more important than having leisure time.

Madeleine Bunting, author of Willing Slaves, which examines how the work culture is affecting people's lives, told Panorama: "I think we've sort of squeezed out kids in many ways to fit our large and growing work lives."

The expectation is that you take work home... that you're rung at weekends or after hours to do something
Will Hutton
The Work Foundation

She said that rather than providing more leisure time, for many people new technology had adversely impacted on their work-life balance.

"I didn't come across that many people who seemed to me to have drawn the benefits of technology without getting, at the same time, enslaved by technology," she said.

Will Hutton, the chief executive of research and management consultancy the Work Foundation, said expectations over workloads were increasing.

"The expectation is that you take work home - the expectation is that you're rung at weekends or after hours to do something.

"The expectation is that if someone's mismanaged a process and to get the job done requires working anti-social hours, then you'll do it."

But Ruth Lea, director of the Centre for Policy Studies, said it was not just high workloads causing imbalances in people's lives.

"People are trying to pack more and more into their lives, and work of course is part of that and they might say it's work's fault, but actually it's their overall lifestyle that is the problem," she said.

Panorama: Get a Life is on BBC One at 2215 GMT on Sunday.

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