New e-dads advice service available by email and text

22 September 2006

Work-life balance charity Working Families will launch a unique new email and text advice service on 2 October, 2006. Particularly aimed at dads, who research has shown prefer online sources of information to telephone helplines, the service will allow ‘callers’ to email or text their questions about maternity and paternity leave and flexible working to the Working Families Helpline team. New software, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, will convert text messages to email.

Dads can email their questions to edads@workingfamilies.org.uk or send a text message to 07800 004722. Dads who text or email a question will receive a reply the same way. If they have more questions, they can continue emailing or texting, but will be encouraged to talk direct to the Helpline team to receive specialist advice or telephone coaching.

Working Families Chief Executive Sarah Jackson said: “We think children need their father’s time and attention, as well as their mother’s. Studies show that children whose fathers have been actively involved in their lives have higher educational achievements, more satisfactory relationships in adult life and less likelihood of being in trouble with the police. And yet 40% of fathers in the UK work more than 48 hours a week. So, the focus of the project is to give fathers information about their rights at work and encourage them to apply for flexible working hours.”

Working Families research revealed that fathers were less likely than mothers to request flexible working and more likely to have their requests turned down. Although they only represent 14% of the callers to the charity’s free Helpline, far higher numbers download materials from their website. Working Families expect that, by publicising the new email and text service, many more men will be encouraged to contact the Helpline and eventually to take up the charity’s free telephone coaching service, which helps parents make a successful case for flexible hours at work

Lottery funding has also allowed the charity to open the Helpline on three evenings a week, as well as from 10am to 3pm on weekdays.

A new A3 poster guide to maternity rights and benefits and an A4 laminated guide to maternity and paternity rights, parental leave and flexible working are now available for £1 each from www.workingfamilies.org.uk or by calling 020 7253 7243.

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