Companies need to do more to support working dads, particularly in the light of new legislation, says the CEO of a leading diversity organisation.
Chris Parke of Talking Talent says that new additional paternity leave legislation has not been a success with very few fathers taking it up and believes the Queen’s Speech failed to address the needs of working fathers and how companies can offer flexible working for both mothers and fathers.
He cites a report - ‘Working Fathers – Combining Family Life & Work’- by Lancaster University and Working Families which found that 82% of full time working men would like to spend more time with their children and help with child care. The report also found fathers are being given more opportunities to work more flexibly than they did five years ago and many organisations are acknowledging the idea of men working flexibility for work-life balance reasons.
Parke says: “The Queen’s speech in May did announce that new parents will be able to request more flexible working hours to engage a more active role in their children’s upbringing and this report indicates this is what father’s would like. However, it is still not clear from government how this could be implemented.
“Many UK companies are not embracing the idea of flexible working for fathers and we believe more should be being done to encourage companies to think about how they could support working fathers. Likewise the uptake of paternity leave is low and probably not enough is being done by companies to promote this.
“Many men are reluctant to take additional paternity leave because it is still a new concept and they are worried about any negative impact it may have on their careers, how they will be perceived by their boss and colleagues, and the financial implications.
He adds: “When it comes to flexible working many fathers are afraid to ask for fear it may be deemed they don’t take their job seriously and many companies are not forward thinking enough to think through how they could be more supportive of fathers, many still believing child care is the main responsibility of the mother.”
“There is a shift in attitude around men taking a more active role in family life and there are signs that men do want a level playing field when it comes to work-life balance. Businesses need to embrace this change and government needs to play its part too in creating a legal framework for how businesses can manage this.
Talking Talent runs a coaching programme for dads which is designed to prepare dads for the impact of a child on their working life.