Dads demand more flexible working

dad with daughters
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As more and more women are staying in the workplace after having children – and often full time – parents are demanding greater flexibility, but dads are still being held back by old-fashioned policies and fears that their employer will react negatively to requests to work flexibly, according to two new surveys.

While‘s annual survey, sponsored by McDonald’s, shows 59 per cent of mums say their partner doesn’t work flexibly and only four per cent say their partner works part time, a survey of dads shows overwhelming demand for flexible working among men with 73 per cent saying they are considering seeking it, but 72 per cent fearing their employer’s reaction if they do.

The survey highlights the way society is changing: 22.5 per cent of the over 2,400 mums who took part are the main earners in their families [compared to 17 per cent in 2016] and an additional 18 per cent are the main earners because they are single parents. Yet mums, who are more able to work reduced hours, still hold the major responsibilities for childcare and housework with just 23 per cent saying childcare is shared equally and around four per cent saying their partner does more than them.

Many mums also said that working flexibly had had a negative impact on their career progression:

– 42 per cent say their flexible working is not viewed positively by colleagues

– 49 per cent say flexible working has held them back in their career

– 54 per cent of part timers say they miss out on career progression opportunities.

Despite this, there is a big demand for greater flexibility, particularly flexible hours and 56 per cent worry their flexible working will be taken away. A quarter [25 per cent] of mums work full time with no flexibility and 40 per cent of those who work flexibly feel they don’t have enough flexibility. Only seven per cent do job shares, although these are held up as a good way for people to progress their careers while working reduced hours.

The survey also highlighted that:

– 62 per cent have considered setting up a business with the flexibility to have more control the key reason

– 67 per cent of women said they were interested in retraining

– 65 per cent of working mums feel they have to work harder due to unconscious bias

– 11 per cent have elder care as well as childcare responsibilities and 68 per cent of these say their employer is not supportive.

– Grandparents are still the favoured way of reducing childcare costs (50 per cent)

– 35 per cent would consider Shared Parental Leave with finance being the main barrier [40 per cent]. However, 24 per cent of mums say they just don’t want to share their leave.

Commenting on the results, Gillian Nissim, founder of, said: “There has been a lot of focus in the last year on the gender pay gap. A huge part of this is down to the lack of women in senior positions. Promotion often occurs around the time that women start families. Our survey shows that more employers need to focus on ways to ensure women don’t drop off the progression track as a result of working flexibly. It also suggests much more needs to be done to make it easier for dads to share parenting duties more equally by enabling them to work flexibly.”

Harriet Hounsell, McDonald’s UK & Ireland Chief People Officer, commented: “We are proud to employ great people who are passionate about their jobs, including many parents. We know one of the reasons people join us is because of the flexibility we provide – flexibility that allows parents to spend school holidays with their children or work around childcare commitments and the school pick up. As one of the largest employers in the UK, we will continue to create jobs that suit different lifestyles and life-stages, as well as supporting our employees through training programmes, and on the job training, to support both flexibility and progression.”

For more information, contact Mandy Garner on 07789 106435.

*Full details from the annual survey can be found here.

This article first appeared on the Parental Choice blog in 2018.  Parental Choice is dedicated to making a difference for working parents by helping to find the perfect childcare solution for their families and assisting with household employee payroll and legal services.  We Are The City members can claim a 10% discount against Parental Choice’s services when quoting WATC10. Call the childcare or payroll teams on 020 8979 6453 or email [email protected].  Usual Parental Choice terms and conditions apply see for details.

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