embargo: 00.01hrs Thursday 9 June 2005
Long hours working is the biggest demon for UK families
The UKs long hours culture is damaging peoples personal lives and reinforcing the gender pay gap, as women juggle paid work with caring for children and older relatives while their partners work the longest hours in Europe, says the TUC today (Thursday) in its submission to the Governments consultation on flexible working.
Fairness and flexibility, the TUCs contribution to the Governments Work and Families: Choice and Flexibility consultation exercise, says that the best way for employees to achieve a better work life balance is for everyone to have the right to work flexibly. It argues that this should be the Governments long term aim, but for now the right to ask to reduce or change the way people work should be extended to all carers and parents with children under 18. (The right to request to work flexibly is currently only open to parents with children under six or the parents of disabled children under 18).
The TUC submission says that ending the UK opt-out to the 48 hour week is crucial if parents are to be given greater choice about how to balance their worlds of work and home. It applauds the many new rights for parents introduced by the Government but says these are merely a sticking plaster over a much bigger problem - UK employers obsession with the need to work long hours.
In addition to tackling the problem of excessive hours, the TUC is also calling for improvements to maternity and paternity leave, and the introduction of paid parental leave:
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'The business benefits of flexible working are there for all to see. Apart from the obvious impact on the individual parent, who feels less stressed and more in control of their lives, more motivated employees are also more productive ones. Increasingly people are balancing the demands of caring not only for children but also dependent adults, and these workers need support and protection.
'But long hours working is the biggest demon facing UK workers. Many fathers find themselves spending extra hours at work when they would really rather be at home, which in turn forces their partners to reduce their hours and pay to run the home and look after children. A better work/life balance where men and women could spend more time with their families and be less stressed at work would be in everyones interest.'
NOTES TO EDITORS: A copy of Fairness and flexibility can be found at http://www.tuc.org.uk/work_life/tuc-10001-f0.cfm
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Press release (1,000 words) issued 9 Jun 2005
This page http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-10005-f0.cfm
printed 18 June 2013 at 05:53 hrs by 126.96.36.199