It might seem ideal to have a flexible, part-time work schedule if you’re a mom, but a new study finds it will also mean you work more unpaid overtime. University of Kent researchers looked at data from the Understanding Society surveys taken between 2010 and 2015 to look at three different types of flexible working that people use, and how it impacts their work loads: flexitime (workers have set weekly hours but can work them within a schedule that suits them), teleworking (ability to work from home for personal reasons on a regular basis) and schedule control (workers determine their own hours and schedules so long as the job is done.) For the first two types, there was little evidence of an increase in unpaid overtime hours, but researchers did not detect a decrease in overtime hours for this group either.
However, for those who gained schedule control over their work there was an increase in the amount of unpaid overtime worked– this finding applies to both professional men and women without children. They also found that while full-time working mothers did not appear to increase their unpaid overtime, part-time working mothers did work more unpaid overtime, with average of around 20 minutes more a week. Researchers say working moms might do this out of feeling doing so will compensate for possible stigma attached to them by other workers, and also that part-time working mothers have a greater ability to work unpaid overtime compared to full-time working mothers. Study co-author Dr. Heejung Chung adds, “More control over your work is supposed to make life easier for workers, particularly those with children. However, it is clear that for many, blurring the boundaries between work and home life expands work to be longer, even when it is unpaid. Employers need to be aware of this and ensure staff are not over-stretching themselves and undoing the benefits of flexible working.”