Study on dads and work reveals how ‘modern-thinking’ British fathers are

20 October 2009

The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Working Better – Fathers, family and work report, which draws on a YouGov survey of more than 2,000 fathers, found that although nearly half (47%) thought the father’s role is to provide, only 23% of fathers (compared to 34% of mothers) thought that childcare is the primary responsibility of the mother.

Over half (55%) of the fathers surveyed (compared to 41% of mothers) believed that the parent who is paid more should stay at work, regardless of whether they are male or female. Sixty-two per cent thought that fathers (in general) should spend more time caring for their children.

The report also confirmed that many dads are struggling to juggle work and domestic commitments, in a system that continues to pigeon-hole them as full-time breadwinners, and their children’s mothers into retaining more responsibility for caring roles. While over half of mothers (51%) said that part-time work was available to them, only 20% of fathers thought they had this option.

Almost half of fathers (49 per cent) said that some form of flexible working was available to them, with the most common forms being flexitime, staggered start and finishing times and working from home – but the availability of flexible working varies widely by sector. Sixty per cent of fathers in the finance and business sector said that flexible working was available to them, compared to only 30% of those employed in manufacturing industries.

And many dads do not take up flexible working for fear of damaging their career by doing so: 36% of dads said it would mark them out as not committed to their jobs and 44% thought that it would negatively affect their chances of promotion. Three-quarters of dads were unaware of the extension of the legal right to request flexible working to parents of children up to the age of 16, which was introduced in April.

To read the Guardian’s coverage of the report click here.

To read the Fatherhood Institute’s proposals for a more equitable system of maternity, paternity and parental leave, click here.