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Fathers feel guilty for working late, but carry on doing it

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According to research by Dr Christine Cousins of the University of Hertfordshire Business School on flexible working and its impact on family life, fathers who work long hours feel guilty about the time spent away from their families but not guilty enough to do anything about it.

Eighty six per cent of all fathers who work more than 50 hours a week find it difficult to reconcile home and work conflicts with 43 per cent of them admitting that family responsibilities prevented them from working properly.

Dr Cousins said: “The finding which surprised me most was that men experienced more difficulty in reconciling home and work compared to women especially as our survey showed that working women still carried the major responsibility for domestic work. As far as childcare is concerned, while there is evidence of a shift to more equal sharing – especially among two full-time working parents – responsibility for childcare is overwhelmingly taken by mothers.”

The study by Dr Cousins and her colleague Ning Tang found that 68 per cent of men work more than 40 hours a week with 29 per cent of them notching up 50-hours.

The figures are higher for fathers with 77 per cent of them working more than 40 hours a week and 35 per cent of that group more than 50 hours.

She added: “Our findings suggest that while fathers are working these long hours and may feel bad about it, they do not feel bad enough to actually do anything about it and change things.”

Working mothers spend less time away from home than fathers who work. Thirty per cent of mothers work between 30 –39 hours a week with 26 per cent clocking up between 20-29 hours and 32 per cent less than 20 hours.

The short hours for mothers and long hours for fathers is the most common working partnership. However for those parents who both work full time 34 per cent of fathers and 40 per cent of mothers want to reduce their working hours with the majority stating that they want to spend more time with their family.

The research was based on a national survey of 945 working households across the UK and is part of a European Union study involving eight countries on flexible working and its impact on quality of life and organisation in the home.

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