Family Lives response to families work 33 days overtime

Jeremy Todd, Family Lives Chief Executive says: 

“Whilst communication technology means that family members can be on hand in a work capacity 24/7 via remote and flexible working, allowing employees to maintain professional duties whilst meeting family obligations – such as doing the school run - we would encourage HR teams to devise clear guidelines as to when and where employees – whether parents or otherwise – must switch off, wind down and share time with their families.   The government’s “family friendly reform agenda” acknowledges that the quality of parenting is the single-most important determinant of the life chances of a child, and that the strength and stability of adults in the family are vital to the well-being of children.  However these good intentions need to be matched with policy measures and investment to ensure that families receive the right support via Government and equally their employer.  Self-employed parents must also regulate themselves and asses the importance of quality time.  With families previously telling us that their single biggest worry is making ends meet with the family finances, and the conflict and stress that this causes, our evidence suggests that overworked parents need to be able to access real and tangible parenting support, advice and guidance.”

Family Lives believes that flexible working should be seen a dynamic policy for all employees (for men, women, old and young) which supports staff to combine work, care and family life in the broadest sense.  As argued in our report, Family Friendly or Failing Families, family friendly policies facilitate choices about work and care, ensuring that families have adequate time and material resources, enhancing child development, promoting diversity, work wellbeing and creating gender equality in employment opportunities.  In this way, family friendly policies should be viewed as integral to a progressive workplace culture that supports high quality, highly productive working that benefits all of society. “ 

Key Tips for implementing Flexible Working

The practical objections often raised by managers are not insurmountable – it just calls for a bit of thought, careful planning, clear communication and appropriate training for everyone involved.   

  • Investing in clear forward planning can pay dividends later when a flexible working request arrives.  Flexible working training for all line managers should look at the process of the statutory working request and analyse the sequence of events, from communication to implementation, performance management and review.   Job performance should take into account a line manager’s ability to manage workers remotely.  
  • Investing in new technology.  Technology is the enabler of remote and flexible working, allowing employees to maintain personal relationships.  Mobile devices, remote network access and/or cloud services, desktop visualisation, video conferencing, and social media can allow colleagues to work together despite being physically separated.   
  • Reassess work roles.  Take an open, objective look at job design in terms of the roles’ real objectives and deliverables and the critical factors affecting the job.  For example are there things that need doing every day? Is the role customer facing? Is it a task or project-based?  Does it need to be carried out in the office?  Job designs should be periodically reassessed to assess their compatibility with a flexible working model.
  • Communication with the broader team – team members may have a perspective on helping make a flexible working option work (i.e. another worker may prefer to cover later/earlier hours).  Flexible working requests should be seen in context of a broader team and the potential to work together in ways that make sense for each of the team.  

To access the embargoed report, contact 

Parents, adult carers and family members concerned about other family issues can call the free Family Lives Helpline: 0808 800 2222 or visit