The rise of the Fatherhood Penalty

Today Working Families, in conjunction with Bright Horizons, launched the 2017 Modern Families Index. The report seeks to provide a snapshot into the lives of working families in the UK.

One of the key findings in the report is that fathers are keen to take an active role in childcare, but that many workplaces are failing to adapt and change to support fathers’ aspirations.

The report details some interesting findings, such as:

  • One in four dads drop their children to school or childcare every day.
  • 70% of fathers work flexibly to fulfil their caring responsibilities.
  • For over half of the fathers surveyed achieving a work-life balance was a source of stress, with almost half saying they would downshift to a less stressful role in order to better balance work responsibilities with family commitments.
  • One fifth of respondents commented that their employer was generally unsympathetic and unsupportive.
  • Just over a third of fathers (38%) say that they would be willing to take a pay cut to achieve a better work-life balance.

Working Families conclude that the UK is at risk of creating a ‘fatherhood penalty’, Chief Executive Sarah Jackson comments:

“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”.

These findings correspond with Employers For Childcare’s 2015 report ‘Striking the Balance’, in which 91% of our 4,000 local respondents stated that it was difficult to combine work with family responsibilities. Like Working Families, we too concluded that employers have a key role to play in supporting working parents to reach a suitable work life balance.

Family Friendly Employers

Based on the findings of ‘Striking the Balance’ Employers For Childcare produced the ‘How to be a Family Friendly Employer’ guide. We identified five key actions for employers:

  1. Practice increased flexibility – This could be through the provision of policies, such as flexitime or compressed hours. However, a flexible approach could simply include facilitating parents when they need to take time off to deal with emergencies or allowing the build-up of TOIL to facilitate other commitments.
  2. Ensure equality of opportunity – Ensure that all parents have the opportunity to progress their careers and work flexibly. There are numerous policies and approaches which can be used to achieve this aim, such as home-working or job-share.
  3. Provide better information – Employers should offer up-front information on the policies which are available, both statutory entitlements and company policy.
  4. Offer Childcare Support – The cost of childcare can cause a significant financial burden for families, and finding affordable and suitable childcare can also be a challenge. Employers can offer help by providing the Childcare Voucher scheme, or go the extra mile by providing onsite childcare.
  5. Be more understanding – Aside from all other asks, many parents simply wish for their employer to be more understanding of working parents and their needs.

To download the How to be a Family Friendly Employer Guide click here.

Family Friendly Employer Workshop – Book now!

For more ideas on how to become a Family Friendly Employer, come along to our annual workshop, a networking breakfast where HR professionals from all industries come together to share best practice advice and listen to examples of family friendly workplace policies implemented by the Family Friendly Employer Award winners.

The next Family Friendly Employer Workshop will be held at Galgorm Resort and Spa on Thursday 2 March 2017.

Call 028 9267 8200 or email for further information.