Government campaign reminds dads of their rights at work

23 February 2010

Flexible working is increasingly important to modern dads who want to take care of their children, according to a new poll from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

More than half (56%) of dads surveyed with children 16 and under said that they would look for an employer who offers flexible working when choosing a new job.

The overwhelming majority (91%) of dads with children aged five or under believe it is important that fathers have the option to take paid paternity leave. Nearly two thirds (62%) believe a dad’s relationship with their child will suffer if they are not at home after the baby is born.

However, while these findings show how important it is to fathers to spend time with their family, some remain unsure of the rights currently in place to help them. The poll found:

• a fifth (20%) of dads with kids aged 16 or under – who, by law, are entitled to request flexible working from their employer – did not know if their company offered flexible working to fathers;
• one in three (34%) parents with children aged nought to five did not realise that paid paternity leave is law; and
• one in five (22%) wrongly assumed that fathers only needed to approach their employer to ask for this leave when the baby was born or before it was eight weeks old. (To benefit from legal paternity rights, fathers must speak with their employer 15 weeks before the baby is due).

BIS published the research as it launched a campaign, also supported by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, to raise awareness among dads of their rights at work to help them care for their child.

Employment Relations Minister Lord Young said: “We know that rights for dads at work are valued by people and that businesses also see real benefits in offering them. But our research shows that there are still some dads out there that are not aware of what they are entitled to and therefore risk missing out. Our campaign is all about making sure dads know what they can do and to help them have more confidence as they weigh up what works best for them and their family. The key is to talk to their employer.”

The Government’s month-long awareness campaign, called Dads at Work, will see posters and consumer information leaflets distributed in outlets such as GP surgeries and ante-natal clinics, directing dads to www.direct.gov.uk/dadsatwork for detailed information. Online advertising will also appear on websites that attract high volumes of ‘dad’ visitors.

Fatherhood Institute Chief Executive Rob Williams stressed that working fathers need support to take time off to spend with their families: “It is so important that we support working fathers to have time off to spend time with their family and make sure they know how they can do that. It not only helps fathers have close, positive relationships with their children but also encourages fathers to make important decisions with the mum, decisions that are probably on a far greater scale than anything else they have needed to discuss before. All this is vital in building strong and stable family relationships.”

Click here for a summary of fathers’ rights in the workplace.

The Fatherhood Institute is campaigning for a more equitable system of parental leave, including paternity leave paid at a high percentage of salary. Read our proposals.

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