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Fathers feel stress of work-life balance

View profile for James Champness

In a report published today, the charity Working Families has released results of a study interviewing some 2,750 parents about the challenges they face balancing work and family life.  In particular, the Modern Families Index 2017 paid attention to the increasingly common desire of working fathers to take more responsibility for childcare.  Almost half of the working fathers surveyed stated that they would prefer a less stressful job in order to spend more time with their children, and a third said they would accept a pay-cut in order to achieve this goal.

The report also found that that working fathers were less likely to make flexible working applications compared with working mothers, with 10% of fathers interviewed saying they believed such an implication could negatively impact their career or cause them to be seen as less committed.  Responding to the report, MPs on the House of Commons’ Woman and Equalities Select Committee have opened an inquiry calling for written submissions about what changes in the workplace could be effected to address some of the points raised by Working Families.

The introduction of shared parental leave in 2015 was intended to help parents who wished to share childcare responsibilities more equally.  However, as suggested by today’s report, take-up has been limited, with the Fatherhood Institute voicing criticism of the current provisions.  “Only a minority (well under 50%) of couples qualify”, said the Institute’s Chief Executive, Adrienne Burgess.  Shared parental leave is, she adds, actually “transferrable maternity leave”, failing to offer working fathers any stand-alone leave entitlements of their own.

Working Families have recommended employers consider ways in which ways employees with caring responsibilities can be supported.  Suggestions include workplace nurseries for larger employers, and access to emergency childcare if routine arrangements go awry.  Such arrangements are likely to become increasingly important for recruitment and retention of working parents.