Employers need to offer better support to working dads

Father and son walk on beach showing need for shared parental leaveNew research commissioned by REC Parenting – an online platform offering paid support to parents and carers – suggests that working dads need greater support in the workplace to successfully juggle all their responsibilities. Almost a third (32 percent) have considered leaving their job because of the pressure of managing work and caring responsibilities and three in 10 often feel overwhelmed by the demands placed on them at work and home.

These findings illustrate just how much more active dads are in bringing up their children than previous generations. A study of fathers aged 25 to 40 found that 87 percent were closely involved in the day-to-day parenting of their children. There is a strong desire to create a more even balance between home and work to enable dads to be around to support and guide their children. These results show that many are struggling to find the balance that they want.

While some forward-thinking employers are switching on to the idea of offering equal parental leave – around 80 organisations in the UK have introduced equal parental leave which gives fathers the (paid) opportunity to jointly care for their new child, with many more introducing enhanced periods of paternity leave – the majority of employers seem to be slow to realise the changing priorities of the fathers in their workforce. They seem particularly sluggish to recognise that a father’s responsibility extends beyond the first year of their child’s life.

A study last year by the TUC (Trade Union Congress) found that half of new fathers are having their requests for flexible working denied by employers. The problem is particularly acute for those on incomes of less than £40,000, with two-thirds having their requests either partially or totally rejected. This inflexibility is likely to be adding to the feelings of stress and overwhelm highlighted in this research. The legislation changes coming up on 6 April will look to address this, but if the dial is to really shift, employer attitudes need to change.

Dr Ana Aznar, Founder & CEO of REC Parenting, said “Fathers play an important role in the development of their children and research shows those with supportive and involved fathers are generally better adjusted. As a society, it is important we recognise the desire fathers have to spend more time actively bringing up their children and adjust how we work accordingly. Employers have a responsibility to understand the demands that all working parents face and support them effectively. Failing to do this could see more and more mothers and fathers exiting the workplace meaning valuable skills and talents are wasted.”