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Some 86% of parents think employers should do more to recognise dads’ parenting responsibilities, according to a Workingmums.co.uk poll.
The poll shows just six per cent said employers should not do more for dads with eight per cent saying they were undecided.
One man said: “My wife works for the NHS and sometimes does long hours so, at the moment and as I’m self employed and do shorter hours, I’m available to keep an eye on our two kids. BUT, for those who aren’t self employed or on flexi time etc, I’d like to see employers be more flexible towards dads so they have a decent amount of time with their kids before bedtime.”
Another parent commented: “If we are serious about equality then fathers should have the same parenting opportunities as mothers.”
Another added: “Until fathers are attributed equal responsibility for their children in the minds of society (including employers) it will always be women who are expected to make sacrifices and compromises regarding childcare.”
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One mum spoke of the difficulty caused to families by the traditional views of some managers. She said: “My husband and I have similar responsibilities and earn the same amount of money within different job roles and career fields. However, when I have had to call on him to pick our daughter up from nursery he has been told that’s your wife’s responsibility. One boss even told my husband that he needed to have a chat about me giving up work! (needless to say I did and I am now at home twiddling my fingers, wanting to work).”
David Bartlett of the Fatherhood Institute who works with employers on fatherhood workshops recently told Workingmums.co.uk: “The current legal framework strongly incentivises mothers to take time off. This has a huge impact on the gender pay gap and affects women’s future career prospects. It has an impact on men and women as it pushes men to work harder. A lot of men are increasingly fed up about that. It constrains their family choices. Slowly they will become more vocal and more proactive in seeking out employers who are more enlightened.”
Next year the Government is bringing in shared parenting legislation which allows mothers and fathers to share blocks of leave in the first year after their baby is born. Under additional paternity leave, fathers can take up to 26 weeks’ leave after the birth of their child if the mother returns to work and receive statutory maternity pay.
Last week, schools minister Elizabeth Truss told the National Day Nurseries Association that dads were increasingly keen to be involved in bringing up children and organising childcare. She mentioned Matthew Hancock, the Skills minister – who has just gone on paternity leave. She said: “I like to see him as a pilot of our new shared parental leave policy. He’s taking a few months off – he got a bit of flak for that – which I think is wrong because it’s so important that we support what modern families want to do and we support the choices that they make, whether that’s staying at home, whether that’s having good quality childcare, whether that’s sharing parental leave between mums and dads.”
She added: “We need to give people those choices and those flexibilities and those options because we know modern life is very fast, it can be tough and it’s really important that people have that support.”