Blame the boss's `presentee-ism' for stress

Howard Davies, deputy governor of the Bank of England, will leave work before 6pm today. If Parents at Work, the charity of which he is patron, has put over the message of its first National Go Home on Time Day effectively, he will not be alone.

Coming on a Friday in the middle of summer, longest day of the year, the idea is bound to have a certain appeal. Hill & Knowlton, the City PR firm acting for PPP Healthcare, which is backing Parents at Work's initiative, presumably will not be the only organisation encouraging its staff away from their desks.

It will be joined by, among others, J Sainsbury, British Airways, Whitbread and MFI. But, while some banks have signed up, City firms have generally greeted the idea with derision.

In some jobs - and dealing in shares and commodities is among them - a great deal of work must be done daily. Staff reductions brought about by recession and the belief that competition is getting ever more intense have increased the pressure on those in many professional roles, particularly middle management.

According to Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology at the University of Manchester's Institute of Science and Technology, it is common for bosses to inculcate a culture of "presentee-ism" by working ever longer hours.

Surveys confirm that British white-collar workers spend far longer in their offices than Continental counterparts, and suffer far more stress.

Living, page 4 Section 2