Dads spend more time at work

New
figures from the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) reveal that the average
number of hours dads spend at work is on the increase.

In
2001 a father’s average working week was 47.3 hours, an increase of nearly 5
per cent on 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 per cent three years previously. The proportion of fathers working
overtime, paid or unpaid, also increased by 2 per cent from

51
per cent to 53 per cent.

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.  

She
said: "Father’s Day is an opportunity for families to celebrate
fatherhood. But dads are dads all year long, not just on one special day. These
figures suggest that many children are seeing less of their dad than they used
to. This is really bad news for families.

"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 per cent 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 per cent of fathers were
working more than 41 hours each week. (See table below for further regional
breakdowns.)

Percentage
of fathers working 41 hours or more per week.

Region
1998 2001 % + / –

All
61.6 65.6 + 4.0

North
East 55.5 62.8 + 7.3

North
West 59.2 60.6 + 1.4

Merseyside
61.9 60.3 – 1.6

Yorkshire
and Humberside 61.2 64.1 + 2.9

East
Midlands 61.2 69.8 + 8.6

West
Midlands 62.7 62.9 + 0.2

Eastern
67.8 69.0 + 1.2

London
59.3 62.9 + 3.6

South
East 64.7 69.9 + 5.2

South
West 65.0 70.2 + 5.2

Wales
61.1 62.7 +1.6

Scotland
58.3 65.4 + 7.1

Source:
All fathers in employment, Quarterly Labour Force Survey Household Datasets, March-May
1998 and March-May 2001, Office for National Statistics.

By Ben Willmott

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