The Northern Territory news Sat 23 Apr 2011
The Northern Territory news; NewspaperNT
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin
Nationwide News Pty. Limited
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Nationwide News Pty. Limited
406 NT NEWS. Saturday, April 23, 2011. www.ntnews.com.au P U B : N T N E W S D A T E : 2 3 -A P R -2 0 1 1 P A G E : 4 0 6 C O L O R : C M Y K ntnews.com.auCAREERONE.COM.AU BY CARA JENKIN HALF of all fathers prefer to be at work less as they battle long hours in the office with spending time with their family, research finds. It compares with less than one in three mothers who would like to work fewer hours to achieve greater work/life balance. Fathers are being encouraged to overcome workplace culture and ask for part-time work or flexible working arrangements to meet their needs. Many women already do so. The Australian Work and Life Index 2010, published by University of South Australia's Centre for Work and Life, reveals 48.9 per cent of partnered fathers prefer to work fewer hours each week, compared with 30.7 per cent of partnered mothers. It also is a higher rate than single fathers (31 per cent) and single mothers (29.4 per cent) who prefer fewer hours. On average, fathers in a twoparent household work 45.7 hours a week and prefer to work 5.5 fewer hours, or 40.2 hours a week. Mothers in a two-parent household work on average 28.5 hours a week and would like to work 26.3 hours. Overall, all fathers still work four more hours than they prefer and mothers one more hour than they would like each week. More women work in part-time jobs than men, in part accounting for why mothers are happier in their weekly working hours than fathers. SafeWork SA Work Life Balance Strategy senior policy officer Sarah Andrews says it is more culturally acceptable in the workplace for mothers to work part-time hours and have flexible working arrangements than for fathers. Yet most fathers want to have more time for and be more involved with their families and children. She says many fathers feel uncomfortable about requesting or are not aware that company policies and workplace laws allow for them to have arrangements in which they can have more time for their families. "I think the community would embrace more men being involved in the care and involved with their children, and being involved in family activities,'' Ms Andrews says. "I think the issue is more with the workplaces. '"If the culture does not exist, if it's seen as a women's issue, or generally a commitment to a workplace, men just aren't going to ask for it. "They see it as a barrier to their careers.'' Changes in workplace attitudes towards part-time roles in general are required for more men and women to access them. Many workers and employers perceive part-time roles as being a barrier to career progression and showing a lack of commitment to the work. But improving the quality of part-time work, ensuring it provides for career promotion and development, and enabling workers in all occupation levels and industries to access part-time hours is required for more men and women to perceive part-time jobs as not being damaging to their careers. But fathers also can have more time to spend with family, without reducing working hours. Ms Andrews says employers need to better promote and communicate the availability of flexible working arrangements to their male staff. "I think (fathers) are asking for flexible arrangements if they know what they can get,'' she says. "If it's not something they see they can get in the workplace, they might not ask for the request in the first place.'' She says men have equal rights and access to flexible working arrangements as women do. Flexitime, where workers start work earlier and leave in time to collect children from school, help with homework or coach their sporting team in the afternoons, is the most common way in which workers can gain flexible hours. But compressed weeks and an nualised hours, by working a set number of hours in a limited period, also can be used to create a flexible working arrangement. KeyInvest national business development manager Andrew Meinel has the right balance in working hours, thanks to flexible working arrangements. The married father of three works full-time at an average of 40 hours each week. But he has negotiated hours that allow him to take his children to school and kindergarten and leave work early to coach his son's cricket team one afternoon a week. He says good time management and planning enables him to strike his balance while maintaining the required hours for the full-time role. "I never wanted to be the father who left for work each morning before saying goodbye to the kids and got home when they were in bed,'' he says. "When I joined KeyInvest three years ago, one of the key attractions to the company was its family-friendly work policy. We have several dads at KeyInvest in the same boat as me who can co-ordinate their working hours with their family commitments.'' He says he is not necessarily tied to the traditional 9am-5pm work day and will put in more hours on one day to ensure his workload is met to take time off on another. "Ultimately it comes down to planning ahead,'' he says. Dads seek time off I never wanted to be the father who left for work each morning before saying goodbye to the kids and got home when they were in bed Andrew Meinel enjoys spending time playing with his children, Jake, 8, Kiana, 6, and Chloe, 4 Five ways in which fathers can spend time with their family: >> >> >> >> >> >> Work part-time. Ask the employer for working hours to be reduced to less than the usual full-time week. Compress working hours. Work more hours in one day and fewer, or none, on others to work a nine-day fortnight. Take a half-day off, or explore individual options. Work from home. Spend less time at the office but more time working at home on weekends or evenings. Negotiate entitlements. Ask the employer for more annual-leave days, for example, instead of a salary increase. The right mix 1 2 3 4 5 Apply for flexible hours. All workers have the right to ask for their start and finish times to be adjusted to allow for other commitments, such as taking children to and from school, and maintain fulltime working hours.