Fathers are open to shared parental leave and flexible working – but worried about asking for it
Yesterday’s Father’s Day was accompanied by new research from My Family Care, which shows that working dads in the UK are struggling to find a decent work-life balance.
Nearly two-thirds (60%) of fathers who have children under school age say they don’t have a working pattern that suits them, while 28% of all fathers say they are unhappy with their work-life balance.
In the past 12 months there has been a greater move towards working dads having a more flexible and child-friendly lifestyle, with the introduction of flexible working rights for all and shared parental leave.
More than half (53%) of those surveyed said they would like to be able to work differently, either flexibly or from home – however, 50% of the fathers commented that they believed flexible working is seen as a sign of lack of commitment, while 42% said they worried it would affect their career progression.
Regarding Shared Parental Leave, half (49%) of fathers planning another child liked the idea of sharing parental leave with their partner – suggesting a rise in future uptake – however only one fifth (20%) said they had seen any real impact of SPL in their workplace.
Many of the fathers surveyed commented that they are still confronted with old-fashioned societal preconceptions that the mother should be the one to deal with childcare issues, and often find that older senior managers don’t understand the practical or emotional issues of fathers today.
Ben Black, director of My Family Care, said: “Today, two out of three mothers are in employment. This means that once the maternity leave period of parenthood comes to an end, many working couples share childcare responsibilities equally. As a result the role of the father has changed dramatically over the last 20 years and they want more flexibility and understanding from their employer. They are afraid to ask because of the perceived stigma and impact on their careers. In order to keep their workforce engaged and retain their best talent, businesses need to overcome generational differences and tackle the problems head on. An engaged workforce is a productive workforce.”
Al Ferguson, founder of The Dad Network, an online support network for fathers, commented: “It's a concern that so many dads feel like their work and family life isn't balanced. And an even greater concern that they feel they can't approach their workplace to discuss more flexibility. There are companies out there who recognise the significance of family life but others who are missing a trick. Getting a good work-life balance is crucial to effective parenting and those parents that have jobs where it's difficult (or indeed impossible) to be flexible, must find this incredibly hard.”
Reward will be tackling the issues around care responsibilities head-on at Making Reward Personal, a conference taking place in London on Thursday 9th July in London. To register and see more details, CLICK HERE