IT IS hardly surprising that only about half of the respondents in a recent survey were satisfied with the amount of family time they had ("Poll respondents lament lack of family time"; Sept 3).

The Families for Life council, which conducted the survey, believes that in our fast-paced environment, people often choose work at the expense of quality family time.

However, the option of setting aside more time for our loved ones is often not open to us.

Surveys on work-life balance show that most people routinely work beyond official hours because of their heavy workload and unreasonable deadlines. A minority get to leave on time, but are forced to take uncompleted work home.

Many bosses believe their employees are working only when they are physically present in the office, so people are appraised not by the actual work done but by the perception of work done.

Some bosses also expect their subordinates to put in the same hours they do, forgetting that their employees command only a fraction of their salaries.

Breadwinners are fully aware that long hours at work interfere with family time. But with the retrenchment of workers being such a common practice nowadays, how many of us will insist on our bosses paying more than lip service to work-life balance?

In fact, we often choose not to use such privileges, owing to concerns that doing so would adversely affect our performance appraisals.

Work-life balance initiatives will not make a difference if the stumbling blocks - unrealistic allocation of work and lack of adequate human resources - are not addressed.

Companies may be against work-life balance initiatives because of concerns over the bottom line or potential abuse of the system.

The Government should consider providing corporate tax relief to encourage more employers to make work-life balance a reality.

Most Singaporeans are not against working beyond the stipulated hours, but employers should spare a thought for the families of their subordinates.