Fathers shift childcare expectations

1486833803_984305055c_oYounger fathers have an increased expectation of being involved in caring for their children. However, this has yet to translate into them working reduced hours, according to a report released today by charity Working Families.

Time, health and the family found that almost a third of parents say there is no flexible working on offer where they work.

The worst affected sectors are healthcare, education and retail. “Despite the extensions to the Right to Request flexible working, it appears that flexible working has yet to penetrate some workplaces, highlighting a gap between what is allowed for in policy but inhibited in practice,” the report said.

In the survey of over 1,000 working parents, 60% of those surveyed said they work flexibly, with varying hours the most common form of flexible working, followed by flexibility in location and then reduced hours.

Fathers experience greater dissatisfaction with working life and resentment towards their employers over their work-life balance. Twice as many fathers as mothers strongly resented their employer, particularly fathers in the 26-35 age bracket. Fathers were also most likely to feel strong resentment when they have one child.

“This corresponds with findings from other research, where the transition to fatherhood was particularly difficult for fathers as it is the first time that they experience work and family conflict. There are important implications for employers around performance and management as men become first time fathers,” said the report.

When asked which parent would be called when there was a problem with childcare or school, both fathers and mothers reported mothers were more likely to be called. However, men between 26 and 35 years old were more likely to be called than other fathers. The report suggests this is a shift towards more equal parenting that employers need to respond to in their policies and attitudes.

Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, said: “It is clear that expectations for work life balance are changing, particularly among younger working fathers. This is a quiet revolution in attitudes which may have long-lasting impact in the workplace. The male employee, focused full-time on his work, is becoming a museum-piece. Tomorrow’s workers, male and female, will expect time and space for their family lives and responsibilities alongside their work.”

She added: “So I am also struck by how many parents told us that flexible working is not available in their workplace. Over 90% of UK organisations say they offer at least one form of flexible working and so we must conclude that employers need to improve their communications about the possible options. What’s not known about, won’t be asked for. If resentment builds up about lack of flexibility, performance will suffer.’

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/xman/

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  1. Cause for optimism as flex becomes norm «

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