ALMOST 40 per cent of working parents are too busy to spend time with their family, a survey has revealed. The survey, conducted by The Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association (BGCA) of Hong Kong, focused on parents' work environment and its influence on their family, including children. It interviewed 1,553 working parents and their children from 13 primary and secondary schools. The findings showed that 67 per cent of parents worked overtime. This was more common among fathers, with 75 per cent of those interviewed putting in extra hours at work. Thirty-eight per cent of parents said they were exhausted after work and could not enjoy family life. About 30 per cent of them said that companies did not have family-friendly policies. Some of the respondents complained that they would be reprimanded if they took time off work because of family problems. Nearly half of the student interviewees said they would not seek help from their parents if they encountered problems, while 60 per cent said their fathers rarely joined school activities. About 30 per cent felt they are neglected by their parents who were too busy to spend time with them. Lau Yuk-king, associate professor of the social work department at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said parents are under a lot of pressure from trying to strike a balance between work and family. 'If the situation continues, their health will deteriorate and it's bad for both parents and children,' Dr Lau said. A child's relationship with his parents has a profound impact on his development. Research has shown that children with a happy family life do well in their studies and have better social skills. Amy Li, a working mother, said it was important for employers to create a family-friendly environment in the office. 'I've been working for a bird's nest wholesale company for the past nine years and I have a good boss,' Ms Li said. 'He allows me to take leave when my children are sick and I don't have to work on public holidays. I can spend more time with my children.' BGCA director Justina Leung Ngai Mou-yin urged the government and business sector to introduce flexible working hours, a five-day week and leave for family emergencies.