Research has found that parents who are putting in longer hours at work because they fear losing their jobs are harming their family life.
A Families Commission poll suggests 20% of parents are missing out on spending time with their children because of diminishing job security.
A Families Commissioner, Sandra Alofivae, says the global economic situation means that for many parents it is not realistic to simply cut back their hours and spend less money.
She says many are trapped by the cost of servicing large mortgages taken out during the property boom.
Ms Alofivae says one in five poll respondents said they were having to work longer hours because of the recession.
She says parents are relying more on their extended family and friends to help out with childcare.
Ms Alofivae says workers in the management, agriculture and road transport industries and those on low incomes are worst affected, with many working in excess of 50 hours.
The online poll was completed by 569 people, of which 79% were women and 21% men.