Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Weekend Work and Leisure Time with Family and Friends: Who Misses Out?

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Weekend Work and Leisure Time with Family and Friends: Who Misses Out?

Article excerpt

In most Western countries, a growing proportion ofemployeesworknonstandardhours(Rapoport & Le Bourdais, 2008). A body of research suggests that nonstandard hours have detrimen- tal effects on employees' health and well-being, on their job satisfaction, and on their work-life balance (Bardasi & Francesconi, 2000; Benach, Gimeno, Benavides, Martinez, & Torne, 2004; Presser, 2003; Shields, 2002; Tausig & Fenwick, 2001). The negative outcomes of nonstandard work schedules are thought to arise at least in part from the constraints they place on how employees can spend their nonwork time. All paid work limits the opportunity to spend time in other activities, but some scholars have argued that a particular feature of nonstandard hours is that they put people out of sync with their family, friends, and community, making it difficult to coordinate time with others (La Valle, Arthur, Millward, & Scott, 2002).

Nonstandard work schedules include work- ing evenings, nights, and weekends. All deviate from standard patterns, but weekend work has particular implications for shared activities, in particular shared leisure and relaxation. Research indicates that, compared to other forms of nonstandard work, including night and evening shifts, weekend employment is associated with the most interference between work and family activities (Almeida, 2004; Demerouti, Geurts, Bakker, & Euwema, 2004; Martin, Wittmer, & Lelchook, 2011; Presser, 2003). This interference encompasses joint leisure activities, because weekends are when most sports and recreation activities are scheduled, church attendance and civic partic- ipation take place, and people meet together socially (Presser, Gornick, & Parashar, 2008). Spending leisure and recreation time with family and friends is important for rest and recuperation and for cementing social ties (Iwasaki & Smale, 1998; Shaw & Dawson, 2001). If these activities are diminished, work- ers are likely to feel more isolated, to be less integrated into their communities, and to have poorer mental health than others (Han & Miller, 2009; Presser, 2000; Strazdins, Clements, Korda, Broom, & D'Souza, 2006).

Family psychologists have noted the advan- tages of couples and families spending leisure time together. Shared couple leisure time is thought to be particularly important for mar- riage quality and cementing the relationship, and it is a predictor of relationship satisfaction (Shaw & Dawson, 2001; Shepanski & Diamond, 2007; Smith, Snyder, Trull, & Monsma, 1988; Strazdins et al., 2006). Time use studies con- firm that nonstandard work leads to desynchro- nization in couple time on work days (Lesnard, 2008; Wight, Raley, & Bianchi, 2008), but to date none have explored connections between weekend work and leisure time shared with a spouse.

Weekend work is also likely to affect parents' leisure time with children. Parents' schedules determine when they are available to their children and, conversely, children's schedules determine when they are available to their parents (Fagan, 2001; Maher, Lindsay, & Bardoel, 2010; Wight et al., 2008). For many working parents weekends are the main opportu- nity to share leisure time with children because both parties are available. Because their working hours are typically longer than mothers', fathers in particular use the weekends to spend time with children (Hook, 2012; Maume, 2011). Although there is some evidence that evening and night shifts may allow parents, again espe- cially fathers, to spend more time with children on the days they work (Wight et al., 2008), this is less possible for weekend workers (La Valle et al., 2002).

Weekend workers potentially could make up on other days for the activities forgone on the days they work. Indeed, research has suggested that some employed parents choose weekend shifts expressly to maximize the time that chil- dren can be cared for by one or the other parent (Mills & Täht, 2010). …

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