Dads ask employers to adopt father-friendly charter

19 October 2000

FATHERS DIRECT, the new independent information service for fathers, today calls on employers in Britain to adopt a six-point charter for father-friendly work.

Evidence increasingly demonstrates that fathers, like mothers, need more flexible working and shorter hours to fulfill their roles as parents. Yet fathers are often afraid to seek a change in their working conditions for fear of losing their jobs or damaging their career prospects. However, more flexible working can lead to a better working environment, greater staff loyalty and increased productivity.

Good employers who back the FATHER-FRIENDLY CHARTER will:

Introduce flexible working conditions that fathers feel comfortable using, encourage working from home.
Provide paid parental leave and actively encourage men to use this leave by highlighting fathers who take it in company newsletters.

  • Introduce a Dad’s Day at work, encouraging fathers to bring in their children to see what they do.
  • Develop a Working Fathers Forum to let fathers meet up and to provide them with advice and information.
  • Make top management into role models by encouraging them to take their fathering seriously.
  • Highlight their father-friendly status in recruiting and advertising.
Duncan Fisher of FATHERS DIRECT said:
“Business is suffering, dads are losing out, and, most important of all, children are missing vital parenting because employers in Britain have failed to modernise by offering father-friendly work. It is time that fatherhood ceased to be invisible in the workplace. This charter is good for dads and good for business.”

SIX FACTS ABOUT FATHER-FRIENDLY WORK

Nearly 25 per cent of working fathers, compared with 18 per cent of working mothers with children under 5, would like to work fewer hours, according to a recent survey of 1,774 adults by Mintel.

Forty per cent of men complained in the Mintel survey that their social or family life suffered because of their work, compared with 30 per cent of women.

New fathers in Britain work the longest hours among European fathers. One in three UK fathers of children under 11 works more than 50 hours a week.

Fathers have no legal right to paid paternity leave in Britain and very limited opportunities to do part-time work.

Fathers are vital to children: They are the main carers for children in 36 per cent of dual-earner families while mothers are working – more than any other individual (source: National Child Development Study). More than eight in ten fathers of dependent children live with all their own, biological children (British Household Panel Study, 1992).

In other countries big companies back their fathers. AMP, Australia’s biggest insurer, has provided 150 men with up to six weeks paid parental leave. Surveys indicate that such practices have not damaged business or led to a career backlash. The country’s major retailer – Coles Myer – plus construction and mining companies now organise lunchtime meetings with fathers to help them devise ways to balance work and parenting.

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