Many dads unaware of their flexible working rights

A new academic study highlights a lack of awareness among dads of their flexible working rights.



Almost a third of dads are not aware that they can reduce their working hours through a flexible working request, according to a new study.

All parents have had the right to formally request flexible working since 2003. However, a study drawing on the 2015 UK Household Longitudinal Survey and published in the journal Work, Employment and Society, has found that almost a third of fathers believe that flexible working agreements that reduce their working hours are not available to them, compared with only a tenth of mums who think they cannot apply for flexible working.

Among fathers, those with lower education levels, in lower status occupations, working in the private sector and in workplaces that do not have trade union presence are more likely to believe that flexible working agreements are not for them.

The researchers, led by Rose Cook for King’s College London, call for awareness-raising activities about flexible working rights to be targeted at fathers with fewer resources and say that encouraging more dads to take up their flexible working rights could help reduce the stigma around part-time working.

They say: “Low perceived availability of hours reduction, particularly among less advantaged fathers, is likely to reflect fathers’ long working hours, which both reinforces and is reinforced by gender pay inequality, a lack of affordable childcare, women continuing to fulfil the majority of domestic labour, and negative gendered perceptions of part-time jobs.

“Given the greater potential of hours reduction to be used for childcare rather than career development purposes, UK work–family policy efforts could focus on increasing awareness and reducing stigma around hours reduction for both parents when children are young, potentially taking inspiration from parents’ guarantees to shorter working days in Nordic countries. Changing perceptions around hours reduction could form part of broader efforts to tackle the long-hours work culture and close the gender pay gap as well as ensuring that parents can fulfil shared parenting aspirations.”

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