UK at risk of creating a ‘fatherhood penalty’

working dad and child, fatherhood penaltty
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The UK is at risk of creating a ‘fatherhood penalty’, according to a new major study.

The 2017 Modern Families Index, published by work-life charity Working Families and Bright Horizon, found that fathers are considering stalling their careers to find roles that they can combine with family life.

According to the survey, 70 per cent of fathers work flexibly to fulfil their caring responsibilities. However, for half of those surveyed work-life balance is increasingly a source of stress – the survey revealed that a third of fathers feel burnt out regularly and one in five are working extra hours in the evening or weekends all the time.

Fathers said they worked these extra hours as this is the only way to deal with the workload and that being seen to be working long hours is important at their company.

The study suggests that if these attitudes continue, there is a risk of creating a ‘fatherhood penalty’ – where fathers are compromising their careers, in favour of jobs below their skill level and reducing their earnings.

Of those surveyed, 70 per cent said they would consider their childcare needs before taking a new job or promotion. Nearly half of working fathers want to downshift into a less stressful job because they can’t balance the demands of work and family life; while 38 per cent said they would be willing to take a pay cut to achieve a better work-life balance.

Speaking about the release of the report, 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 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.”

Maria Miller MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee said, “The Modern Families Index shines a much-needed light on the experiences of British fathers in the workplace.”

“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.”

“However, the Government’s flagship policy of Shared Parental Leave is likely to have little impact as it is predicted by the Government to have take-up rate of just 2-8%”

“We are now launching a new inquiry into Fathers and the Workplace to look at whether fathers are getting the support they need in the workplace to fulfil their caring responsibilities.”

“We look forward to hearing from Working Families and others as we conduct this inquiry.”

About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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