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Working atypical hours: what happens to ‘family life’?

Published: September 2006


This study assessed how working patterns affect the amount of time that parents spend with their children and the types of activities they do together, focussing on parents who work atypical hours - times outside of the usual working week (i.e. early mornings, evenings, nights and weekends).


For some parents, working atypical hours was associated with spending less time with children and doing fewer child-centred activities. We also found:

• the vast majority of families have at least one parent who works at atypical times

• mums in dual-income houses working early mornings during the week spent less time with their children – not only during weekdays but also at the weekend

• mums’ working atypical hours were more likely than dads working atypical hours to lose time eating, reading or playing sport with their children

• children whose parents worked on a Sunday spent more of their time playing sport

• children whose parents worked on weekday evenings and nights spent more time on social activities and entertainment.


The study used secondary analysis of the 2000 UK Time Use Survey (UKTUS) - a quantitative ‘fly on the wall’ look at the ways families in the UK spend their time.  The UKTUS asked children and adults to fill out diaries and questionnaires about their time use.

Read the report