A large number of dads are considering changing jobs to have greater flexibility, with many saying employers are still not aware that modern families have changed, according to a survey to celebrate the launch of the new Workingdads.co.uk website.
The survey shows 73% of dads are considering searching for a flexible job and 16% are actively looking for one. The Workingdads.co.uk site has been launched to offer new flexible jobs to dads and as a place where dads can keep informed about and debate issues relating to being a working dad. It will also provide advice and information about employment rights and career issues. The launch comes as the survey of over 600 dads shows a huge 95% say they consider flexible hours either very important [66%] or important [29%].
Sam Jones from the North West works in the NHS Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. He would love to be able to work flexibly, but says the size of his team and his manager’s attitude to men taking time away from work for family mean that he has not asked. He recently took Shared Parental Leave – his daughter is 10 months old – and was the first within his Trust to do so as a man. He says: “This caused havoc! Nobody knew what to do, and there was talk from my manager of the leave being blocked. Thankfully, the law doesn’t actually allow this, so I was able to take the first 10 weeks of my daughter’s life away from work to be with her.”
Since returning to work, Sam has had to take time off to look after her when his wife was ill. He says: “The response was always “Can’t someone else do it?” when that would almost never be the response a mother would get. It’s doubly frustrating for me as I work for the NHS and this is supposed to be the organisation that pushes for more involvement from both parents.” He thinks attitudes towards men wanting to be an active part of parenting need to change. “It’s simply not supported by society which is still very much stuck in the dark ages of expecting men to go out and earn the money while the woman stays at home to look after baby – it’s only when the baby gets older (once maternity leave finishes basically) that women are expected to leave their children,” he says.
“We seem to live in a society in Britain where every ounce of sweat and work is expected by our employers, and both men and women are expected to leave their children in order to go to work. Men who want to play an active role are often prevented from doing so because we come up against negative attitudes outside the home.”
Nevertheless, 72% think companies still mainly want traditional hours. Sixty-nine per cent think employers do not realise modern families have changed.
As a result, 72% fear their employer’s reaction if they asked for flexible working.
Fifty per cent of those questioned work full time with no flexibility and 34% work full time with some degree of flexibility.
Richard Cahill has blogged about his experiences as a dad looking to find more flexible working. He says: “I found the search for a flexible part time role as a dad really difficult as I struggled against some really backward attitudes towards men working flexibly. Interviewers would question what my wife was doing and why it had to be me picking up the children from school! I passionately believe that new flexible roles should be available to all and that attitudes about men working flexibly need to change, which is why I support Workingdads.co.uk.”
Han-Son Lee, founder of DaddiLife, a leading website for dads, said: “Modern families have changed dramatically in the last few years and new generations are creating much more equality across their day-to-day lives. Nowhere is this more true than in the world of parenting, where dads are taking on much more active roles. The results of our recent Dad Index showed that 87% of Millennial dads are actively involved in day-to-day parenting, and yet one of the areas we hear a lot about in the community is the lack of real flexibility in their working environment. There’s a cultural shift needed across industry to reflect the changing shape of family today, and I hope more findings from surveys like this Workingdads.co.uk one can help create that step change.”
Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingdads.co.uk, said: “We are keen to build in the success of Workingmums.co.uk and reflect changes in what modern families want. When I launched Workingmums.co.uk 12 years ago the appetite for flexible new roles was coming almost exclusively from women. That has changed. Our survey shows that dads want more time with their children, more equal parenting and employers who acknowledge that. Modern family life is a joint endeavour, with greater equality at home enabling greater equality at work, and the workplace needs to reflect that. It’s a win win – for families and for employers.”
*Not his real name