Partners want more flexible working

flexible working


Three quarters of working mums’ partners don’t work flexibly, but 36% of these would like to, according to a poll by

Three quarters of working mums’ partners don’t work flexibly, but 36% of these would like to, according to a poll by

The survey of over 430 people found that 20% of partners did work flexibly and 75% did not. Five per cent of respondents did not have a partner. More than a third of partners wanted to work flexibly.

There have been big debates around the issue of encouraging more men to request flexible working. Figures published earlier this year by the Liberal Democrats showed that only 14% of dads who are eligible for flexible working actually request them, compared to 22% of mothers. Dads are also more likely to be refused flexible working. One in four dads who request flexible working are refused by their employers, with the average overall for refusals being one in five, the figures showed.

One parent said: “If both parents work then both parents should be open to sharing the pick-ups and drop-offs. Organisations need to respect that dads as well as mums need flexibility!”

Another commented: “My husband is a consultant and works away from home Monday to Friday – I am left with a FT job and a FT activity schedule for my two boys. Sunday is the only day that we don’t have an activity. I am paying through the nose for afterschool care, but my employer wasn’t able to offer me flexible working and as a result my husband is now trying to get a local job, but a lot of employers don’t think that the children are the man’s problem and I always seem to be the one that has to ask for time off when they are sick.”


Another mum said it was not just employers who made it difficult for men to take more of a role in childcare. She said her mother-in-law made her life a misery “because bringing up the children is and should solely be my duty just because she had it that way”. She is trying to get back to work after a 10-year break and finding it very difficult.

Many complained that there is not enough support for parents, given that both now tend to have to work. The world has changed, they said, but employers and Government were slow to catch up and childcare was too expensive.

One parent said: “We live in a society where having children is a crime for many companies. Childcare needs to be more flexible and if both parents are working their needs to be definitely more support and financial incentives.”

Another added: I have 1 child, my husband and I work fulltime. The available childcare is difficult, does not fit the times we need and moreover is extremely expensive. I am sure if the Government wants to push all the parents to work and stay away from benefits, it’s important to have inexpensive and good childcare arrangements. We both would appreciate flexible working hours.

For some the pressures caused by partners not being able to work flexibly were so great that it had forced them to consider splitting up.

One woman said: “My husband works long hours for a large bank and I work part-time for Hallmark. We have a daughter together and I feel like I am so alone looking after her. It’s always me that looks after her when she is not well, cook, and clean etc etc. His work said he can work from home when needed, but as the staff are cut in his office, he can’t really leave them and the managers all put pressure on him to get things done.

He is one of the best and longest-serving members of staff there, but the company just neglect him. They want more from him, but are less willing to compensate him for all he has done/is doing. We are in so much debt and I have been diagnosed with depression. Really, my husband would probably be better off leaving work and applying for benefits as we are really struggling and our marriage is on a thin line because of it all…”

Minimum wage

Another said her husband had tried to find flexible work, but had only managed to get a minimum-wage job at nights. She works part time during the day. “After our first child it worked quite well,” she says, “but now it’s really stressful to the point where we have decided to split up because we are so disconnected, we have no home life really….”

Others had had good experiences with their employers. One mum said: “I have 3 children, 6, 4 and 18 months and I have chosen to work part time since each of them turned 9 months. Like most of my friends I don’t want to leave my kids in complex and expensive child care arrangements (nanny, after school clubs, granny), but we seem to have no option if we want to provide them with a good lifetstyle and options for the future.

My husband would love to work more flexibly, but his profession (law) offers none. It’s not all bad news, though; I have a great employer who over the years has offered me total job flexibility and I get to work from home often. I had to hammer on the door at first, but a growing trend hopefully?”

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