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Public sector workers struggling to switch off

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A third (33%) of workers feel they work longer hours than five years ago thanks to mobile phones and remote email access, with public sector workers struggling the most with work-life balance, according to a new survey.

The survey, by civil service and public sector membership body CSMA Club, found that although more private than public sector workers said that technology meant they remained in ‘work mode’ when they’d finished for the day, public sector employees reported a worse work-life balance overall.

Almost a third (31%) of public sector workers said they couldn’t forget about work and relax, compared with 20% of private sector staff.  

More than a quarter (28%) of public sector workers said they were unable to spend quality time with family during the week, compared to a fifth (20%) in the private sector. Meanwhile half of those in the public sector didn’t see weeknights as an opportunity to socialise, compared to two-fifths (37%) in the private sector.

Carl Fillery, chief executive of CSMA Club, said: “Financial strain and budget capping within the public sector have led to increasing amounts of pressure on employees to deliver more for less. Only last week George Osborne announced the 2015 spending review, which plans to cut public sector spending by £20 billion.

“As a result some employees have been asked to take on more work, often having to work overtime to keep on top of an increasing workload. There have also been a significant number of job losses in recent years, partly due to the recession and the government’s austerity measures. This has led to many people feeling insecure and needing to justify their position by doing much more than is required of them.

The survey also found signs that the government’s 2014 legislation giving every employee the right to request flexible working hours has caused the private sector to catch up with the public sector in granting such requests.

Almost the same ratio of both public and private sector staff (50% compared to 49%) felt their employer was supportive of the need for flexible working.

Work technology intruding into their private lives was more of an issue for private sector workers however. A third (32%) of private sector employees said that technology meant they remained in ‘work mode’ in leisure time, compared with 27% of public sector staff.