Survey highlights changing attitudes of young dads

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Young fathers are more likely than other parents to feel resentful towards their employers because they feel they do not have a good work life balance, according to a survey by Working Families.

Working Families’ report Time, Health and the Family, sponsored by Bright Horizons, is based on the results of a survey of over a thousand respondents all of whom had dependent children and with an even mother/father representation.

Changing Attitudes to Work Life Balance

It found changing attitudes to work life balance, particularly among younger dads. They were more resentful towards their employers about their work-life balance. Fathers in the 26-35 age group were the most resentful. Fathers with a single child tended to be more resentful towards their employers than fathers with more than one child.

Most families said that work impinged on family life to some extent, with over 40 per cent saying this happened often or all the time. Resentment towards work was more pronounced the more family life is impinged upon. Those who found their time most impinged upon were young fathers between 26-35.

Almost a third of parents believed that there was no flexible working on offer where they work.  Education, retail and healthcare were the three sectors deemed most likely not to offer flexible working.

Mothers as the default carer

The survey also showed mothers are the first port of call when things go wrong at school or at childcare. Both fathers and mothers said that the mother would be called first.

The only group for whom this was starkly different were young fathers between 26-35 who said that they were almost as likely to be called as their partner. Working Families says organisations like nurseries and schools “still seem to operate largely on the default setting that the mother is the carer”.

Sarah Jackson, Chief Executive of Working Families, said: “It is clear that expectations for work life balance are changing, particularly among younger working fathers.  This is a quiet revolution in attitudes which may have long-lasting impact in the workplace.  The male employee, focused full-time on his work, is becoming a museum-piece.  Tomorrow’s workers, male and female, will expect time and space for their family lives and responsibilities alongside their work.

“So I am also struck by how many parents told us that flexible working is not available in their workplace.  Over 90% of UK organisations say they offer at least one form of flexible working and so we must conclude that employers need to improve their communications about the possible options. What’s not known about, won’t be asked for.  If resentment builds up about lack of flexibility, performance will suffer.”

Flexible working turned down

The survey comes as figures were released by Parliament showing that in 2012 18 per cent of men had flexible working applications turned down, compared to 10 per cent of women. However, they also show that men are less likely to apply for flexible working. Only 17 per cent of fathers had made a request for fleixble working, compared to 28 per cent of women. Employers in the north were also less likely to grant flexible working applications and people in their 40s were less successful with their requests, the figures show.

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