A woman's work is never-ending

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The Independent Online

Labour Editor

A poll of women employees has revealed that long working hours are seriously undermining women's relationships with their partners and children.

One in five women say that the strain is affecting their marriage, and three out of five report that they do not see enough of their children.

In the poll, which covered 2,000 women workers, most replied that they were "exhausted" by the end of their day and that family relations were "seriously at risk".

The survey is published by the charity Parents at Work ahead of its conference in London today which seeks to help women, in particular, balance the demands of home and job.

Lucy Daniels, director of the charity, said that there was a "climate of fear" in most organisations which led to excessive workloads, exhausted employees, low morale, unhappy families, a high level of stress and poor productivity.

Working mothers were burning the candle at both ends, Ms Daniels said, leaving no time for themselves. "Britain's long-hours culture is seriously undermining the quality of family life and we must challenge this culture for everyone's sake."

Around two-thirds of working mothers routinely work longer hours that they are contracted to do. One in five spend less than two hours a day with their children. Most mothers were involved in a "tug of war" between work and family life.

A respondent in the survey said: "The order of priority goes: working, my son, a little bit of time for my relationship and then me." Another said: "I've given up on any personal interests or social life." One woman admitted: "I'm reluctant to put my head up in the current environment and say 'Can I do less hours?' - they might say 'Yes, a lot less' and I'd be out of job."

Parents at Work wants companies to ensure that women work "effectively rather than excessively".