Creating a fairer Britain
20 October 2009
Many British fathers are working long hours, struggling to balance work and family and fear that requesting flexible working will damage their careers, a new report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found.
The report, launched today (20 Oct) to coincide with Parents’ Week, finds that British men want to take a more active role in caring for their children. But four in 10 fathers say they spend too little time with their children.
Forty-five per cent of men fail to take two weeks’ paternity leave after the birth of their child with the most common reason provided being because they can’t afford to. Two in five men fear that asking for flexible working arrangements would result in their commitment to their job being questioned and would negatively affect their chances of a promotion.
The report also points to an opportunity for employers to gain a competitive advantage in recruitment, as two in three fathers consider the availability of flexible working to be important when looking for a new job.
One approach to balancing work and family commitments outlined in the report is to expand paternity and parental leave schemes. The Commission has previously outlined a series of fully costed policies that would help to meet the needs of businesses and modern families as part of its Working Better Initiative.
It included fathers having:
Andrea Murray, Acting Group Director Strategy from the Equality and Human Rights Commission said:
“It is clear that today’s families require a modern approach to balancing work and childcare commitments. Fathers are telling us they are not spending enough time with their families and want to take a more active role in shaping the lives of their children.
“We have spoken to parents, employers, unions and leading academic experts in the field, and we believe that our Working Better policies lay out a road-map to 2020 which will put Britain ahead of the curve in terms of modern working practices.
“Two-thirds of fathers see flexible working as an important benefit when looking for a new job. This highlights an opportunity for British businesses to use flexible working as an incentive for attracting and retaining the most talented of employees. Some companies which have adopted forward thinking policies towards families are reporting increased productivity, reduction in staff turnover, reduced training costs and an ability to respond better to customer requirements.”
See more: Working better
Current and proposed Government paternity leave arrangements include:
Other key statistics:
The paper draws on:
A large 2008-2009 YouGov quantitative survey of 4,500 parents in England, Wales and Scotland of children aged under 16 and is supported by qualitative data from several online forums involving a wide range of groups of fathers.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission
The Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.