Image: Carissa Rogers Image: Carissa Rogers

The majority of working parents in the UK say work commitments have affected the time they get to spend with their families, according to a new study.

Parents who regularly put in extra hours at work said that the overtime interfered with family activities, with more than half saying it interfered with their ability to put their children to bed.

A quarter of working parents said this happened more than three times a week, according to the research by Working Families.

The results also found that almost two thirds said work detrimentally affected the time they had to help children with homework.

Working Families, the UK's leading work-life balance organisation, is encouraging parents and their employers to take part in Go Home On Time Day today, to help people improve their work-life balance.

Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, said: “Families need time as well as money to thrive. Flexible working patterns can give parents the balance they need between work and family life, and deliver motivated, productive employees for businesses. But this only works if jobs are designed properly - and can be done in the hours allocated to them.”

The study revealed one in four parents in Wales work at least six weeks a year in unpaid overtime and many miss out on precious family moments like attending school shows.

More than two thirds said their job also interfered with their ability to take part in school or nursery milestones for their children, such as attending performances or parents' evenings.

High earning parents were found to have more flexibility than those who are lower earns. Those who make more than £70,000 a year are 47% more likely to work flexibly than those earning between £10,000 and £40,000.

The research also found the majority of working parents regularly put in extra hours at work, with a quarter saying they worked at least five extra unpaid hours a week.

The Federation of Small Business (FSB) says flexibility is an important way to retain staff.

Mike Cherry, FSB chairman said: "Our research shows 80% of small businesses offer or would consider offering flexible working opportunities to their staff.

"We know three quarters of our own membership currently have at least one member of staff working flexibly, including part-time, staggered hours, home working, or flexi-time.”

Another recent study, conducted by Powwownow, found that on average, men are given twice as much workplace flexibility as women, as men work an average of six hours flexibly per week, compared to just three hours worked by women.

The research also found that less than half of women (47%), irrespective of income, are afforded the opportunity to work flexibly by their employer in an average week, while two thirds of men (66%) are granted this request.

In addition to more flexible working hours, men are also rewarded for working overtime; over half (55%) are paid extra for working outside their contracted hours, compared to only a third of women (33%).

Jason Downes, managing director of Powwownow said:It is clear that attitudes towards men and women in the workplace, as well as general approaches to flexible working, still leave a lot of room for improvement; employers need to take urgent action to address this imbalance.

“If businesses want to attract skilled talent to their workforce, these are the types of approaches that need to change. Without change, people will be reluctant to join an outdated workplace and businesses will miss out on the next generation of talent required to drive the economy forward.”