Construction workers fail to find work-life balance

The famous builders’ tea break is becoming a thing of the past as workers in
the construction industry find themselves under increasing pressure at work,
research for the DTI finds.

A survey for the Department of Trade and Industry’s Work-Life Balance
Campaign reveals that the majority of construction industry workers are doing
overtime or skipping breaks because of the demands of their job.

More than a quarter of the respondents to the poll in Building Magazine
estimate they are doing up to five hours overtime a week, 40 per cent between
five and 10 hours, 24 per cent between 10 and 15 hours and 9 per cent over 15

The research also reveals that more than 80 per cent of company owners would
consider offering their staff flexible working options if they thought this
would increase productivity levels and increase morale. Nearly two-thirds of
employers in the sector report they already have flexible working practices.

Part-time working is the most popular flexible working practice with 40 per
cent of employers providing this option to some staff, followed by flexitime on
39 per cent and staggered hours on 27 per cent. More than half of the 180
respondents reveal they would be interested in using flexible working practices
to attract more women to the business.

Adrian Barrick, editor of Building Magazine, said the survey shows there is
a need for the construction industry to start to embrace flexible working
wherever possible. "In the macho world of construction, work invariably
comes before partners and children – but long hours working puts an
unsustainable strain on all staff whether they have caring responsibilities or
not," he said.

"As an industry we have fallen behind other sectors in addressing this
issue and it is more important than ever to hold on to good staff."

By Ben Willmott

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