Third of fathers unaware of their flexible working rights

flexible working and fathersA new study in the British Sociological Association’s journal Work, Employment and Society has found that 10 percent of mothers and 30 percent of fathers do not know that they have the right to ask their employer to consider changes to how they work as part of flexible working regulations introduced as much as 17 years ago.

Among part-time workers, 58 percent of men did not know that they might be eligible, compared with 22 percent of women. And more than four out of five – 81 percent– of men did not know they were eligible for a job share, compared with 70 percent of women.

The researchers found that fathers in supervisory and technical occupations were more than twice as likely as fathers in management positions to be unaware that flexible working could be an option for them. Those who worked in organisations without a union were almost twice as likely to be ignorant of their rights as those who did.

Since 2003, all employees who have been in their job for at least six months have a legal right to request flexible working arrangements. Self-employed workers are excluded.

In turn, employers must deal with requests in a “reasonable manner”. This might include showing that they have weighed up the pros and cons of an application, met to discuss the request with the employee and offered an appeal process. The report suggests that only around a quarter of managers know that employees can request a change to how they work.

The report’s authors conclude that ensuring employees knew their rights regarding flexible working was particularly important given the risks of working in proximity to colleagues during the current pandemic.

A report earlier this year found that many men remain concerned about the impact that taking up their shared parental leave rights could have on their career and incomes.