UK risks creating ‘fatherhood penalty’ warns Working Families report

UK risks creating ‘fatherhood penalty’ warns Working Families report

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The UK is at risk of creating a ‘fatherhood penalty’, a report by Working Families, a work-life balance charity, has warned.

The 2017 Modern Families Index, released on Monday, reveals that nearly half of working fathers (47 per cent) want to downgrade to a less stressful job, so they can have a better balance between work and family life.

Seven out of ten fathers said they already work flexibly to fulfil their caring responsibilities, but for half of the respondents, their work-life balance is becoming a source of stress. 

One-third of fathers said they feel burnt out regularly, while 20 per cent said they are constantly doing extra hours in the evening or weekends.

Moreover, of the 2,750 respondents, one in five said their employers were unsympathetic about childcare, expecting no disruption to work. Almost half (44 per cent) said they had lied or bent the truth to their employer about family-related responsibilities that ‘get in the way’ of work.

In light of these findings, experts have warned that the UK is in danger of creating a fatherhood penalty, as more fathers are compromising their careers in order to be more involved with their children’s upbringing.

More than a third of fathers (38 per cent) said they would be willing to take a pay cut to achieve a better work-life balance. This figure was higher among millennial fathers with 48 per cent saying they would take a pay cut.

Maria Miller MP, chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee said: “Many fathers want to take a more active role in caring for their children and our Committee’s inquiry into the gender pay gap last year found that sharing caring responsibilities equally between mothers and fathers is the key to reducing the gender pay gap.

She said the government’s flagship policy of Shared Parental Leave was likely to have little impact as only two to eight per cent of fathers are expected to take it up, according to government predictions.

Sarah Jackson, Chief Executive of Working Families, said: “To prevent a ‘fatherhood penalty’ emerging in the UK – and to help tackle the motherhood penalty – employers need to ensure that work is designed in a way that helps women and men find a good work-life fit.

“Making roles flexible by default and a healthy dose of realism when it comes to what can be done in the hours available are absolutely vital.

“A game-changing first step would be government creating a new, properly paid, extended period of paternity leave – sending a clear signal that government recognises the aspirations of modern fathers and is serious about tackling the motherhood penalty that blights the working lives of so many women.”

Miller said the committee is launching a new inquiry into fathers and the workplace to look at whether fathers are receiving the support they need in the workplace to fulfil their caring responsibilities.


Showing 2 comments
  • Jackie Longworth

    Oh dear! Poor men! They would like to spend more time with their children, but apparently they can’t. Why not? Because they refuse to give up good jobs and take a pay cut to work part time? Well women have always had to! Here’s a radical suggestion; instead of making it possible for men to keep their well paid job and work flexibly why not do it for women first? That way we might eliminate the gender pay gap without making families poorer and by enabling women to reach their full potential.

  • Jackie Longworth

    PS: How about we campaign for the ‘right to have’ flexible working rather than the ‘right to request’ it? Large numbers of women are refused when they request.

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