UK Workplace Suffering A Family-Work Balance Failure?

Family-work life balance

The workplace in the UK today is understandably vastly different to what existed twenty years ago. Employers are often actively seeking to improve the comfort and happiness of their employees in the hopes that it will encourage higher levels of productivity.

But as the workplace changes, the modern family has to work to adapt to the problems that a working life provides in today’s society. The Modern Families Index 2017 has been published by the work-life balance charity Working Families and Bright Horizons and gives us an understanding of how working families balance both work and family life.

2,750 parents across the UK completed the Index in 2016 over 11 regions and with a variety of relationship statuses. The only requirement of the study was to be in paid employment (either full or part time) or self employment as well as having a dependent child 13 or under.

Work Is Putting Pressure on Families

The study unfortunately does not shine a very good light on the family to work balance with 48 per cent of the respondents stating that their working hours regularly interfered with their ability to spend time with their children. Even more startling is that a third said that pressure from their work resulted in negative effects with their partner and a quarter stating that it resulted in rows with their children.

This work pressure is shown by the fact that 72 per cent of parents said that they caught up with work either in the evenings or weekends at home. The intrusion of work into family and home life can understandably lead to further pressures on relationships between family members.

Flexible working can be a solution to helping parents fit their work life around their child care and all employees can request flexible working as it is a legal right. While 60 per cent of respondents said that they worked flexibly, 55 per cent of those who did not work flexibly said that their role did not accommodate the flexibility they would prefer.

This is an unfortunate fact that while employees can request flexible working; employers are under no requirement to allow this. As such, parents may find themselves facing increased child care costs due to being unable to work around their childcare.

Fathers Are Experiencing a ‘Fatherhood Penalty’

Most commonly in the news you will see reports or research on how women, in particular mothers, are negatively affected in work and the repercussions this can have. But the Modern Families Index notes that fathers are also having to make the same considerations that mothers make today.

Fathers of all ages, but in particularly those aged 16-35, were found to be agreeable to the idea of taking a pay cut if it allowed them to work fewer hours. Unfortunately, as mothers were found to be more likely to earn less than fathers, this means that fathers are unable to take a pay cut without running the risk of not being able to afford everything a family needs.

As well as this, seven out of ten fathers stated that they would consider childcare before taking a new job or promotion, showing that fathers are taking into consideration compromises when it comes to their work. 47 per cent of men were more prepared to downshift their career to improve their family life.

What is clear to see in this Index is that the general negative effects working has shown to have on families throughout the country show that the family and work life balance needs to be assessed more closely.



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Sarah Jubb

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