On top of this week’s news about fathers feeling guilty about not seeing their children, there are new indications of the amount of work they are putting in. New figures from the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) reveal that the average number of hours dads spend at work is on the increase. Commenting on the figures, released on Father’s Day, EOC Chair, Julie Mellor, challenged employers to give dads a chance to spend some more time with their children.
In 2001 fathers’ average working week was 47.3 hours, an increase of nearly 5% since 1998 when fathers worked an average of 45.1 hours a week. Sixty-six per cent of fathers were working more than 41 hours per week in 2001, compared with 62% three years previously. The proportion of fathers working overtime, paid or unpaid, also increased by 2% from 51% to 53%.
Julie Mellor, Chair of the EOC, said: “Despite growing awareness of the importance of achieving a balance between work and family, men are still missing out on the opportunity to be involved in caring for their children, and children are missing out on having their dad around. The challenge for employers is to enable dads to break out of the straitjacket of long and inflexible working hours.”
There are some regional differences in working hours. A higher percentage of fathers in the South East, South West and East Midlands regions work long hours – in 2001 70% put in more than 41 hours a week. But even at the opposite end of the scale, in the North West and Merseyside around 60% of fathers were working more than 41 hours each week. (See table below for further regional breakdowns.)