This article discusses the impact of long-term shiftwork on the families of male shiftworkers at a New Zealand petrochemical company. The findings are based primarily on interviews with twenty-seven shiftworkers and seventeen female partners, supplemented by informal observations of the organisation. All respondents described shiftwork as having a profound influence on the economic, temporal, social and emotional patterns of family life. Men and women gave divergent accounts, reflecting their differing roles within the family. Whilst the company compensated workers well financially for the inconveniences of shiftwork, the rigidity of the shiftwork system meant that families shouldered the primary responsibility for resolving the tensions between work and family life. In consequence, women paid a high price for their partner's employment, often sacrificing their own careers in order to take primary responsibility for organising family life.
New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 2010, 39 (1), pp. 7 - 14